Archive for Wednesday, August 26, 2015

KCC workers opt to leave civil service for pay raises

August 26, 2015

— The Kansas Corporation Commission said 81 percent of its classified workers have chosen to leave the state's civil service system in exchange for a pay raise.

The commission, which regulates utilities, said 76 of the agency's 94 classified employees chose a 7.5 percent salary increase to leave the civil service system, The Topeka Capital Journal reported. The agency, which has about 200 employees, said it approved raises for all the workers who wanted one.

Lawmakers passed a law this spring that requires state workers to move out of the classified system when they accept pay raises or promotions. The raises also required approval from Gov. Sam Brownback's office.

Rebecca Proctor, director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said the high percentage of workers accepting the offer proves that many state workers face financial problems.

"State employees have gone a very, very long time without a pay increase. And the high number of people taking this pay increase shows you how much these people need that money to keep up with expenses," Proctor said.

The new law changed the Kansas Civil Service Act so that all newly hired employees, workers promoted or demoted, as well as workers voluntarily transferred, would be placed in the unclassified system. The change applied to most major state agencies, including the commission.

Supporters of the change said it would put state agencies more in line with practices in private industry and give agencies more flexibility to fulfill their missions and staffing needs.

Kansas has about 13,000 civil service employees, who enjoy more job protections than other workers. Opponents say the change was intended to remove those job protections from state employees.

The Kansas Corporation Commission, which has an annual budget of about $20 million, doesn't receive any revenue from the state's general fund.

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