March 19, 2009
MAKING HISTORY – State employees at the founding convention of Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE)/ AFSCME Local 300. (Photo credit: Chris Bryant)
Members of Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE), AFT/ AFSCME Local 300 laid the groundwork for a better future at their first convention in February as a state budget crisis threatened delivery of their paychecks.
At the gathering, members approved a permanent constitution and voted on a slate of executive board nominations. They also attended sessions to learn about critical union issues including health and safety, member mobilization and political action.
“State workers have suffered because our legislators have not approved pay increases or funded cost-of-living adjustments,” says Sherry Martin, KOSE’ newly elected executive recording secretary and a senior equipment operator for the Kansas Department of Transportation. “Now, we have a better chance of getting this to stop.”
Created two years ago, through the merger of AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers, KOSE is the largest union of Kansas state employees. The organization represents more than 11,000 non-supervisory, non-confidential classified employees in the executive branch of state government.
The strength of KOSE’ members was demonstrated just before their convention began. Although a severe state cash shortage threatened to delay payrolls, Republican lawmakers opposed a request by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) to borrow $225 million to cover wages and other obligations.
KOSE members lobbied successfully for money to fund their pay. “In fact, KOSE members called and e-mailed so many times that mailboxes filled up,” AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee said during remarks at the convention.
Read more about the founding of KOSE here.