Archive for Thursday, December 18, 2003

Legislature may hear KU civil service plan

December 18, 2003

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— A plan to move 1,500 Kansas University employees out of the state's civil service system may be heard by the Legislature when it convenes early next year.

KU administrators want the Legislature to approve a bill that would allow each of the state's universities to decide whether its classified employees should withdraw from the civil service system.

The plan gained approval Wednesday by the Council of Presidents, an advisory group to the Kansas Board of Regents made up of the CEOs of the six state universities.

"I believe the way this is proposed is that the legislation would be permissive," said Ed Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University. "I see it as being an institution-by-institution call."

The issue now will be forwarded to the regents for their discussion in January. If they approve, it could be presented as a bill during the 2004 legislative session. The earliest the new system could start is July 2005.

KU classified employees, which include secretaries, janitors and maintenance workers, voted 623 to 532 in October in favor of creating a new system of employment that would retain benefits such as health insurance, a retirement plan and vacation but would allow KU to set pay raises higher than those set by the state. The Legislature currently sets salaries for classified employees.

A previous vote on the issue ended in a 545-to-545 tie.

Employees at FHSU, Wichita State University and Kansas State University also are considering plans to leave civil service.

The plan likely won't come without opposition. Some KU employees and the Kansas Association of Public Employees, a union that represents some state workers, have said they would oppose the change. They say civil service gives workers additional job security that another plan might not provide.

But KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway insisted Wednesday that the only change would be the possibility of better pay.

"Classified employees are often the last ones to be considered for raises at the end of the legislative session," he said. "They've been somewhat the forgotten figures when these things get considered."

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