|Frequently Asked Questions|
The Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) is a new union for Kansas executive branch state employees, and the largest union of state employees in Kansas. KOSE has a dual affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
Q1. Why was KOSE formed?
A. State employees formed KOSE so we can have more clout in the workplace, at the bargaining table and in the Legislature where decisions about our work, pay and benefits are made. We also formed KOSE in anticipation of a state-led plan to consolidate 42 executive branch bargaining units into 16 broad, occupation-based units made up of employees performing similar work. The Kansas Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) formally adopted the state plan on May 16, 2007.
Q2. Who are the AFT and AFSCME?
A. The AFT and AFSCME are the parent unions of KOSE. They are the two largest unions in the AFL-CIO and together represent more than 2.8 million union members nationwide. With the backing of these two strong unions, KOSE has the resources and expertise to be a powerful advocate for improving state services, workplace conditions and state employee compensation.
Q3. What is the mission of KOSE?
A. KOSE is dedicated to making real improvements on issues that matter to state employees, such as wages, pay equity, workplace safety, career development and fair treatment on the job. Our priorities will be based on the ideas and input of KOSE members, and we will tackle all challenges together.
Q4. Who is eligible to join KOSE?
A. All non-supervisory, non-confidential classified employees in the executive branch of state government, excluding higher education.
Q5. Why should state employees get involved in KOSE?
A. Because we are stronger together. By joining, you give us all more power to improve our working lives and strengthen our voice on issues that matter in the workplace.
Q6. I am an executive branch state employee and a member of the Kansas Association of Public Employees (KAPE/AFT) or AFSCME. How does the formation of KOSE affect me, and will my dues change?
A. The boards of KAPE and AFSCME voted overwhelmingly to merge their executive branch state employee members into KOSE, creating one strong, united organization. Under the merger, all current KAPE and AFSCME members in the executive branch of Kansas state government (non-higher education) automatically become KOSE members, with membership rights in both parent unions, the AFT and AFSCME. Dues will remain the same for these members.
Q7. What bargaining units in Kansas state government will KOSE represent?
A. Under the state plan recently adopted by the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB), KOSE was instantly recognized as the bargaining agent for six of the 16 newly created units. These six units, which collectively represent more than 10,000 state workers, are: Maintenance, Trades and Technical; Administrative Support; Health and Human Care Non-professional; Social Services, Counseling and Teachers; Protective Services; and Law Enforcement Investigators.
Q8. Tell me more about the new bargaining system. Do you support it?
The state plan adopted by the PERB on May 16 consolidated 42 geographically-based bargaining units into 16 broad occupational units made up of state employees performing similar work. It was formulated based on input from KAPE, AFSCME, state employees, other employee groups, and the report of a labor relations specialist retained by the state.
KOSE supports the new system. In particular, KOSE strongly supports the concept of unit consolidation and occupational grouping. Under the old splintered system, many of the 42 bargaining units were small and comprised of unrelated job titles at a single work site. Such a fragmented system reduced the leverage of employees and made it difficult to address job-specific issues in ways that could improve public services, working conditions and compensation.
In contrast, the new bargaining system holds great promise, as it will allow a group of similar employees (e.g., administrative support personnel) to bargain with one voice for the best possible union agreement.
To fully realize the promise of the new system, however, all state employees need to get involved. That’s why we urge all eligible state employees to join KOSE and actively participate in our union.
Q9. Under the new bargaining system, what happens next?
A. Initially, all state employees will continue to work under their current agreements. But, in the near future, the recognized bargaining agent for each new unit will begin negotiations with the state for a new union contract. During negotiations, it will be especially critical for all KOSE members and state employees to show unity and make our voices heard.
Q10. I like what I’ve heard but still have questions. Where can I get more information?
A. Talk to a KOSE member or attend an informational meeting in your workplace. If you have questions, comments, ideas or input, you can also call the KOSE office at (785) 354-1174 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.