Thelma Simons marshaled her fearless troops Tuesday for an assault on the Capitol.
Her objective as president of Classified Senate at Kansas University wasn't a bloody revolution. The goal was to convince legislators responsible for setting policy affecting state employees to see things her way.
Simons, who represents 1,700 KU staff, joined two dozen colleagues for the annual day of lobbying in the Statehouse.
At the top of the agenda during meetings with lawmakers was a proposal by Gov. Bill Graves to make classified workers eligible for a 2.5 percent salary increase or a longevity bonus if the employee had topped out on the pay scale.
Simons said lack of a cost-of-living adjustment in the Graves pay package was troublesome. In addition, she said, the governor bucked tradition by offering longevity bonuses only to a minority of state employees.
"Not since before 1982 has a governor recommended such a poor pay package," she said. "What the governor is recommending does not even keep up with the rate of inflation."
Simons, a KU computer network administrator, said classified employees deserved a COLA that reflected annual increases in the Consumer Price Index.
Longevity payments of $40 for each year of service should be paid to all employees with 10 years on the job, she said.
"We have been told this loss of longevity bonus will only be for one year, but I am worried that this will set a bad precedent," Simons said.
Other requests of classified employees:
- Allow classified employees to run for partisan political office without resigning their job. Unclassified state workers don't have to contend with that requirement.
- Wipe away a policy that requires 25 percent of state employee positions lost through retirement to be eliminated.
- Give employees the option of converting unused sick leave to years of service or 50 percent pay at retirement.