The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) supports 30,000 members statewide.
Leaders said the union gives teachers and staff a voice at the legislature, provides protections during contract negotiations and helps them adapt to our current education climate, as class sizes continue to grow and funding becomes more fleeting.
“If you can imagine going almost 10 years without a raise – what that does to you when you’re asked to redo standards four times in that same time period, when you are asked to teach more students, when you’re asked to do more paperwork and put in more time before and after school,” said OEA President Alicia Priest.
While Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small said he believes in the right to unionize, he's questioning the effectiveness of the unions in our state.
“They have really failed at representing the teacher. You see that the unions are often parroting what administrators say, who continue to see salary increase, but they’re often not advocating for what really is going to help teachers,” he told News 9.
The OEA maintained its members govern the organization.
"Administrative agendas do not guide our work," Priest added.
But Small also said, there's the issue of revenue dollars not making it to teacher paychecks.
“We think unions have contributed to not really working on that issue,” he said.
In response, the OEA said in part:
"The claim that schools do actually have extra money for teacher raises is not only inaccurate, but it's insulting to the professionals doing their best to run our schools under these circumstances.”