Oklahomans to Decide on Future of Affirmative Action

You'll decide who becomes our next president on November 6th. That same day, you'll also decide on the affirmative action issue in Oklahoma.

State Question 759, addresses preferential treatment or discrimination.

Right now in Oklahoma, it is illegal for a company to have a quota. What they can do is advertise to different groups and make sure everyone knows there's a job open.

There will be jobs open in the new Shoppes on Peoria. David Collins helped build it with his company Phoenix Construction.

Right now, there is an effort to help disadvantaged businesses like his get work on big contracts.

"Because you have to go through so much red tape. You have to team up with a bigger construction company and be their contractor. There is so much you have to do, so many hoops you have to jump through, to even be a part of this," he explained.

In Oklahoma, affirmative action exists to attract minorities to the opportunities. Jabar Shumate is on Oklahoma's Affirmative Action Review Council and a state representative. "We do not have quotas systems at all in the state of Oklahoma," he declared.

But he says Oklahoma does track minority hiring and contracting, and it does direct ads and outreach as needed.

"Instead of bidding where only large companies, that can handle a job, if you break it up you have a chance for under represented minority firms or women firms to have a shot at bidding for the project. That's an example of what cities and states have done in affirmative action," he said.

It helped the Phoenix company maintain 40 employees and a $300,000 payroll last year.

"If this thing passes where it eliminates this work, coming in our community, my company could go down the tubes," said Collins.

If voters approve State Question 759, that would apply to the state, counties, cities and school districts.