Archive for Tuesday, March 22, 2011

State union official urges legislators to reject ‘attack on Kansas worker protections’

March 22, 2011


— Kansas' largest state employee union urged legislators on Tuesday to reject a move by Kansas Secretary of Labor Karin Brownlee to have total authority over who can work for the agency.

“This amendment is simply an attack on Kansas worker protections and is completely unnecessary,” said Rebecca Proctor, legal counsel for the Kansas Organization of State Employees.

“Fundamentally, this amendment does nothing except allow Secretary Brownlee to discharge and discipline employees without cause,” Proctor told the Senate Commerce Committee.

Brownlee said she wants to improve the agency through better management and a merit-based employee system.

“We are not trying to deprive anyone of continued employment; just be a good worker,” she said.

Her proposal would make all employees at the Labor Department unclassified workers without Civil Service protection who serve at the pleasure of the secretary. The move would affect 383 classified workers, or about two thirds of the agency.

Brownlee said the current Civil Service system is too constraining and takes too long to remove a bad employee.

Proctor, however, said the Civil Service system has procedures to reward employees based on merit, and get rid of workers who are doing a bad job.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said Brownlee's proposal could arbitrarily take away workers' rights and lead to hiring based on political pressure.

But Chairwoman Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said Brownlee was trying to work on “huge problems within our Civil Service system.”

The committee took no action on the bill.


newmath 7 years, 3 months ago

quoting the article, "Brownlee said the current Civil Service system is too constraining and takes too long to remove a bad employee.". She has been secretary about 2 months, I don't think that really translates to having much experience in using the civil service system to discipline employees. Sounds more like she just want firing someone to be a big red EASY button.

Any way, I thought the reason mentioned previously was because of needs to downsize due to drops in funding? The story seems to be evolving.

olderwiser 7 years, 3 months ago

The only thing is, she is also causing the good employees to feel like they are doing something wrong. I believe like newmath that it is a downsizing problem (budget cuts). Maybe they need to work from the top down, not the bottom up.

Jan Rolls 7 years, 3 months ago

What have these crazy republicans been smoking? All they have done this year is trying to find ways to get rid of employees. They haven't produced one idea to create jobs. All brownlee is doing is trying to find a way to privatize jobs. Isn't it interesting that the "labor" department does not perform the basic function of the labor exchange - matching employees with employers. That function is under commerce. She should be telling the gov to put that federally established function back in the labor department instead of commerce where they have been siphoning off the federal funds for years. Want proof look and see where commerce got most of the money to remodel their office at 1000 SW Jackson years ago. Instead of trying to eliminate jobs she should be trying to find a way to get the phones answered in the unemployment office which is under her direction.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

She already has the ability to fire with cause-- she just has to demonstrate cause. If there is any cause, and she's a good manager, this shouldn't be particularly difficult.

And every dept. head in state government already has the ability to do layoffs in the case of financial exigency.

"“This amendment is simply an attack on Kansas worker protections and is completely unnecessary,” said Rebecca Proctor, legal counsel for the Kansas Organization of State Employees."

Yup, and attacking state workers is exactly the point. So appealing to reason or a sense of fairness, or even a desire for good management techniques, is probably futile.

barlowtl 7 years, 3 months ago

What it is like without Civil Serivce for public employees: My brother went to work for the Ft. Wayne, IN Fire dept many years ago. At that time there was no Civil Service & you were hired only as a political reward. You had to declare a party, apply when that party was elected & you & your family were expected to support the candidates in your declared party.. You had lots of incentive as your future depended on the fate of your party. If your guy was elected you probably would be promoted, if your guy lost you could go from a captain to the lowest rank overnight. My brother always said that you never lived up to your income because next election you could be starting over again. Needless to say it made for lots of hard feelings & low morale not to mention the incompetence. It took many years of struggle to finally get Civil Service. Civil Service protects everyone, the employee, the state & the public. Political patronage only promotes bribery, incompetence & low morale. Only power hungry politicians would benefit.

somebodynew 7 years, 3 months ago

And what most people here don't get is that the majority of State workers ARE NOT civil service. They can be gone at the drop of a hat (or before it hits the ground) as they are "at will" employees.

If you look at all the proposals that have been made so far, most of them revolve around the Party being in control of everything and everyone. They "sell" it as saving money and cutting personnel, but then why are State jobs still being advertised as open. Just a couple posted in the last several days. And why are they still finding high paying jobs for their friends.

Doesn't sound like saving money to me (except for pay cuts), sounds like a major power grab with a good disguise.

question4u 7 years, 3 months ago

So, all of you who might have been contemplating a job with the state of Kansas, the first question is do you have any other options? The second question is, if you do have other options, why in the world would you consider taking a job at lower-than-private-sector pay, the threat of significant increases in personal contributions to your health insurance and pension plan in any given year (with the knowledge that past history shows that the state will not uphold its end of the bargain), and the possibility of no civil service job protections? Why would you want to work for an employer that constantly tells you that you're overpaid while freezing (and now potentially cutting) your salary)? If there is an answer, it obviously isn't because your employer will treat you with fairness and respect. Just ask yourself if Mike O'Neal knows the meanings of those words.

Certainly even a bad job could be better than no job. On the other hand, our governor has vowed to create more private sector jobs , and if he really does what he's promised then there should very soon be alternatives to working for the state. Isn't your future worth careful consideration before contemplating risking it on a state job?

George_Braziller 7 years, 3 months ago

"Certainly even a bad job could be better than no job."

Not always. I worked for an organization for 20+ years and was Assistant Director for five. All it took was one Executive Director who was incredibly immature, passive-aggressive, and incompetent to make my job a living hell. She pulled one final bone-headed stunt behind my back and then lied to me about it.

That was the last straw. I resigned without another job just to get away from her. She was truly awful.

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