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Kansas - Workers Win Budget Battle

House Visit - KOSE members meet with Rep. Sean Gatewood (D) outside his office to urge him to block service cuts, layoffs and furloughs.

House Visit - KOSE members meet with Rep. Sean Gatewood
House Visit - KOSE members meet with Rep. Sean Gatewood (D) outside his office to urge him to block service cuts, layoffs and furloughs. (Photo credit: Brian Brunkow)

Members of the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) AFT/AFSCME Local 300 helped block efforts by anti-worker legislators to pass a budget that would have cut 1,000 jobs and furloughed thousands of state workers.

The victory took dogged determination, with KOSE members and community supporters making their presence known on the steps of the State Capitol during the 2010 legislative session.

During their Lobby Day last spring, they mobilized more than 300 activists who formed “gauntlets” outside each chamber to urge wavering legislators to stand with them. They also flooded House and Senate offices with hundreds of phone calls, faxes and e-mails.

KOSE members also utilized Twitter updates and action alerts, and sounded off on Facebook — prompting more e-mails to targeted legislators.

The strategy worked. Shortly before the session ended in April, legislators passed an $8 billion budget that not only prevented layoffs and furloughs, but even restored some funds for corrections facilities and social service agencies that were chopped last year.

“It would have been devastating to our community if state workers were furloughed,” says Pat Staab, a petroleum industry regulator and KOSE member. “The citizens of Kansas have demonstrated that they want nothing less than a functioning state government to meet their needs.”

To avoid deeper spending cuts, legislators further approved a 1-cent sales tax increase as a way to preserve the state’s investments in public education and the social safety net for the most vulnerable citizens.

The actions of KOSE members were proof of why the Kansas Democratic Party gave the union its highest honor, the Dennis M. Langley Award. The award “recognizes the generous, unselfish commitment of individuals who support Democratic causes year in and year out.”

“The best part of this award is that it recognizes the efforts of KOSE to bring state employees together to help elect our bosses at the state capitol,” says KOSE Exec. Dir. Jane Carter.

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