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State of Kansas

Great Seal of the State of Kansas By strengthening the rights and treatment of state workers, Kansas is improving public services and setting an example for public employers.


Strengthening the economic opportunities and rights of Kansas workers

In America’s heartland, the State of Kansas is working overtime to improve the lives of the citizens it serves by protecting the rights of its dedicated workforce. Under the leadership of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas has taken monumental steps to change the way the state serves its own employees.

At a Glance

The State of Kansas employs more than 20,000 workers who carry out the day-to-day functions of state government.

Topeka, KS


State Government

Union Employees
11,478 government service employees

Total Employees

Annual Revenues
$13.5 billion annual operating budget

5 main state office buildings

2.8 million residents

Recognizing the inefficient bargaining structure of Kansas’ union-represented workforce needed consolidation, Gov. Sebelius reached out to the labor community and devised a new framework to organize the state’s bargaining units. To take advantage of this, two unions representing the majority of Kansas state employees, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, merged their locals to form the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE). The merger complemented the state’s efforts to streamline government services and protect workers’ rights. Thanks to the strong partnership between the state and KOSE, employees are now positioned to address their own workplace issues through their union and provide better agency services. Workers in thousands of job titles—correctional officers, social workers, transportation employees, and mental health facility staff—can now bargain over issues including increased security, training, pay equity, and hours of work.

Gov. Sebelius understands that inaccurate public employee stereotypes do not reflect the hard-working attitudes of Kansas’ state employees. She explains that Kansas state employees have typically earned “45 percent less than similar jobs in other states,” making it “hard to attract and retain quality workers to serve the people of Kansas.” To try to remedy this, the Governor signed legislation in May 2008 to bring more than 7,500 state employees’ wages up to market value over the next five years. The $86 million committed this year is the largest appropriation for state worker salaries ever.

Another testament to Gov. Sebelius’ commitment to workers’ rights can be found in the executive order she signed in July 2007 granting 7,000 home childcare providers collective bargaining rights. This will directly help the state recruit and retain quality childcare providers, who are often underpaid and have high turnover rates. Childcare workers, through their union, can now negotiate for improved benefits, and families who qualify for state childcare assistance will have increased peace of mind, knowing that the state is working to improve the safety and working conditions of those who care for their children.

As Kansas continues its bargaining relationship with the unions who represent state employees, its 2.8 million residents will benefit from a more efficient, effective, and well-respected workforce.

Selection Criteria  

> Free and fair chance to form a union

> Collaborating as equal partners with workers and their unions to craft innovative strategies on compensation, performance, and productivity to meet business goals and address challenges

> Providing sustainable wages or progressive increases and worker-friendly benefits 


> Creating new jobs and implementing employee retention strategies

> Protecting workers' safety and health

> Fostering diversity and inclusion in the workforce

> Offering training and professional development opportunities

> Contributing positively to the broader community