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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kansas, The Next Target: Unions expect difficult legislative session in 2014

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Negative legislation for workers included changes in workers’ compensation, collective bargaining and project labor agreements, which are agreements that set wages on particular construction jobs, said Andy Sanchez, executive secretary-treasurer of the Kansas AFL-CIO.

The Kansas Legislature passed a number of bills unions believe are unfavorable to workers during the
2013 session, and such actions remind the Kansas AFL-CIO to stay focused on its job in the
Sunflower State: to represent all working people, not just union members.

“I think there’s a lot of negative legislation that’s been passed in the past couple of years regarding unemployment benefits,” Sanchez said. “They reduced the number of weeks and workers comp benefits. We think that’s going to hurt a lot of people and we think it’s already hurting our economy.”

The project labor agreement changes stop government entities from requiring union-level wages on jobs. Unemployment benefits were changed to allow employers to avoid paying benefits if the employee broke even minor rules, such as failing to wear a name tag or being late.

Such anti-worker legislation, Sanchez said, made it even more important for local unions to work together in the political process. At the 24th biennial convention recently, leaders tried to stay ahead of the political process by throwing support behind candidates for the next election, even though it is a year out.

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