Archive for Friday, September 8, 2017

Brownback handing out additional pay raises, but only to unclassified staff

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

September 8, 2017

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— Gov. Sam Brownback's administration announced Thursday that it is providing 2.5 percent pay raises to state employees who were left out of the pay plan Kansas lawmakers approved this year, but only to those outside the state's civil service system.

The announcement was made in a news release Thursday from the Kansas Department of Administration, although the release was not sent to many news outlets until Friday. It said the raises would be funded out of "existing agency funds."

“This effort furthers the Governor’s commitment to rewarding employees for their performance and trust in their employer,” Secretary of Administration Sarah Shipman said in the release. “The administration is currently looking at the agency budgets for Fiscal Year 2019 (which begins July 1, 2018) to determine how inequities and salary compression can be further addressed. We look forward to working with the 2018 Legislature to further address this situation.”

In government employment, classified employees are paid wages based on a pay matrix authorized by the Legislature that takes into account the classification of the job and the employee's years of service. Employees are supposed to receive regular "step" increases for each year of service, plus longevity bonuses for those who reach the top end of the pay scale.

Due to budgetary constraints, however, those step increases and longevity bonuses have not been funded for the last several years.

Classified employees also have civil service protection, meaning they are entitled to a due process hearing before they can be summarily fired or demoted.

Unclassified employees, by contrast, are considered "at-will" employees. They generally earn more than classified workers, and their salaries are determined by their bosses. But they have no civil service protection and can be fired at any time.

In the release, the agency said the state does not have legal authority to grant raises to classified employees without legislative approval.

However, at least one state agency, the Department of Health and Environment, said it would give the 2.5 percent raise to classified workers if they agree to shift to an unclassified position.

"If you are in a classified position and voluntarily agree to move to unclassified, we can provide a 2.5 percent increase plus longevity," KDHE Secretary Susan Mosier said in a staff email obtained by the Journal-World.

At the Department of Corrections, however, Secretary Joe Norwood said that because of a lack of resources, the raises would come in the form of a one-time, lump sum bonus payment to unclassified employees.

"Unfortunately, KDOC was not able to identify funding for a 2.5% wage increase for these unclassified employees," Norwood said in an email to his staff. "However, we have found funding for a 'one-time' 2.5% bonus. The effective date will be announced at a later date."

In the budget bill that lawmakers approved this year, employees who have worked for the state less than five years were given a 2.5 percent raise. Employees who have worked for the state longer than five years could qualify for a 5 percent raise, but only if they had not received any pay increases during that five-year period.

As a result of that language, very few veteran employees qualified for a raise this year.

Robert Choromanski, head of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, accused the administration of using the pay raises to weaken the civil service system.

“It’s causing division and dissension between classified and unclassified employees," Choromanski said in a phone interview. "It’s practically creating a two-tiered state of employees. Basically the administration is labeling classified employees as losers and labeling unclassified employees as the winners."

Choromanski said there was nothing the union could do legally to block the administration's action. But he said he plans to seek legislation next year to restore civil service protection for all state employees.

"There was a bill that we proposed this past session, but it really didn’t go anywhere because of the budgetary and fiscal crisis that the Legislature was focused on," he said. "But we will be working that bill again because it’s still alive. (It would) basically reinstate the civil service system and try to convert back all of those unclassified employees back into classified employees, because it’s the only way to be fair to make sure that all state employees are treated equitably and fairly."

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 months, 2 weeks ago

ThinkProgress has assembled just five of the many things that Americans can thank the nation’s unions for giving us all:

=== Unions Gave Us The Weekend: Even the ultra-conservative Mises Institute notes that the relatively labor-free 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was 61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now.

cal momentum to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included room for leisure time.

=== Unions Gave Us Fair Wages And Relative Income Equality: As ThinkProgress reported earlier in the week, the relative decline of unions over the past 35 years has mirrored a decline in the middle class’s share of national income.

It is also true that at the time when most Americans belonged to a union — a period of time between the 1940’s and 1950’s — income inequality in the U.S. was at its lowest point in the history of the country.

=== Unions Helped End Child Labor: “Union organizing and child labor reform were often intertwined” in U.S. history, with organization’s like the “National Consumers’ League” and the National Child Labor Committee” working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor.

The very first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881, and soon after states across the country adopted similar recommendations, leading up to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.

=== Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage: “The rise of unions in the 1930’s and 1940’s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, “the US set up a National War Labor Board.

It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering “fringe benefits” — notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.”

=== Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act: Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.”

https://thinkprogress.org/report-five-things-unions-have-done-for-all-americans-6379ca1779fe/

MerriAnnie Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

" 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was 61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now."

And without unions their pay for those 61 hours was generally sub-par, too. You worked long, hard hours and you were paid less than you were worth. The wealthy got filthy rich off the working people, and when the crash came many of the wealthy jumped out of the highrise windows to their death because they couldn't imagine having to get a job and work 61 hours for little pay. They'd rather be dead.

So, I ask you, human beings everywhere.... how can you look at most wealthy people and feel any kind of respect for them without knowing them well enough to know they're one of the rare exceptions?

Think about Donald Trump, Charles and David Koch, Adelson, and others who are specifically Republicans so they can break unions, abolish public schools, wipe out regulations that keep them from killing you on the job, and eliminate help for the poor.

Admirable men, aren't they? And Christians everywhere defend them and rush down to vote for them. They even donate to the campaigns they donate to. Working class Christians, I mean.

If this world gets any more ridiculous I'll be happy I'm 74 and will be out of it sooner than later likely.

Kevin Millikan 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Trust in their employer? That's a joke, the people that took the deal are mostly gone now, and even the ones that didn't got kicked out. There is no trust, that's just a stupid comment.

Bill Turner 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I recognize that, as a worker, I am a commodity - a mental mercenary, hired to do a job until the job is done or my employer sees fit to end my compensation. I fully expect my employer to stab me in the back the moment the economic advantages outweigh the negatives of doing so. There is no compassion or loyalty on the side of an employer precisely because an employer is not an entity capable of such things in our modern capitalist society. As a consequence, I have no loyalty to my employer. To quote from The Godfather: It's nothing personal, it's just business.

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