Office of Labor Relations

What does the Office of Labor Relations do?

The office acts on behalf of the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) to administer the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act (PEERA) and for the Secretary of Labor to administer the Professional Negotiations Act (PNA). These Kansas laws, enacted more than 35 years ago, establish the right of public employees in Kansas to organize and negotiate with public employers regarding terms and conditions of employment and grievances.

What is PERB?

The Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) administers the Kansas Public Employer-Employee Relations Act (PEERA). (See “What is PEERA?” below.)

The Board handles unfair labor practice complaints against public employers, employee organizations and others. Unfair labor practice complaints generally deal with failure to bargain in good faith, for example, by unilateral changes in wages or hours and other working conditions.

The Board consists of five members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Kansas Senate. One member is a representative of public employers; one member is a representative of public employees; three members represent the general public. No more than three members are appointed from the same political party. The Executive Director of PERB and other staff members are provided by the Department of Labor to support the Board in the administration of these public sector labor laws.

What is PEERA?

The Public Employer-Employee Relations Act (PEERA), K.S.A. 75-4321 et seq., covers employees of the state and its agencies, cities, counties, fire districts, school districts (except for teachers) and some colleges. However, all except the state must elect to come under the provisions of PEERA by a vote of their governing body. A listing follows of those bodies that currently have elected to be subject to PEERA. National Labor Relations Board regulations may cover other entities. The local governing body – commission, council, school board, etc. – must choose to participate or the employees are not covered by PEERA and cannot petition PERB.

Current Kansas Cities and Counties under the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act (PEERA)

The following Kansas cities and counties have opted to be under the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act (PEERA) as of January 1, 2015.

     Cities     Counties
Dodge CityRussell*
Junction City
Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS
USD 259 (Wichita, KS)
USD 489 (Hays, KS) - Service and Maintenance
USD 500 (Kansas City, KS) - Clerical; Paraprofessional; Shop & Maintenance*; Security Officers; Bus Drivers**
Sedgwick County Fire District #1

*Unit bargaining representative decertified or withdrew representation.

What is PNA?

Public school teachers and other professional employees are covered under the Professional Negotiations Act (PNA), K.S.A, 72-2218 et seq. The Secretary of the Kansas Department of Labor is responsible for administration of the PNA.

I don't

All Unified School Districts, area vocational-technical schools and community colleges are covered under PNA, but they are not required to have negotiating representatives. The Office of Labor Relations conducts the election of negotiating representatives for a college, school or school district’s professional employees.

Under PNA, employers, employees or employee organizations can file unfair labor practice complaints. If negotiations reach an impasse, the Office of Labor Relations must be notified.

Who is a public employee?

According to statute, "public employee" means any person employed by any public agency – state, county, city, school district, etc., except those persons classified as supervisory employees or professional employees of school districts, as defined by subsection (c) of K.S.A. 72-2218, elected and management officials, and confidential employees.

Under Kansas law, public employees have the right to form, join and participate in the activities of employee organizations of their own choosing, for the purpose of meeting and conferring with public employers or their designated representatives with respect to grievances and conditions of employment. Public employees also have the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations.

Are all government employees covered by the Office of Labor Relations?

No. Although most employees of the State of Kansas and its agencies are covered under PEERA, county and municipal government employees are covered only if those government bodies have opted into coverage under PEERA. Generally, supervisory and confidential employees are excluded from coverage under PEERA.

How are labor negotiations handled through the Office of Labor Relations?

Public employee groups which choose to be represented in their negotiations with their public employer hold an election to determine who or what entity will represent them in the negotiations. For example, police officers may elect the Fraternal Order of Police to represent them. Timing for the elections for representation are different under PEERA and PNA. PEERA allows them throughout the year while PNA has a cut off date of December 1 for the next year’s representation for negotiations.

Official petition forms are found online: See PNA forms and PERB forms. Note: The petition requirements and the notification about impasse are different under PERB and PNA.

Generally, when an impasse in bargaining is reached, the Office will contact the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a free service of the U.S. Department of Labor, for negotiation assistance. If the parties cannot settle, the issue goes to “fact finding.” A list of five fact-finders will be provided by the Office of Labor Relations to help the parties reach agreement over their terms and conditions of employment.

PNA agreements have a deadline of June 1 each year, but the process can be extended into the summer if there is an impasse.

What if I want to request a mediator or fact finder?

Requests can be made by letter or email. See “Requests for Mediators or Fact Finders.”

Can I look up decisions that have been made concerning past complaints?

Yes, the decisions under the Professional Negotiations Act and those of the Public Employee Relations Board are found on our website. These decisions are searchable by date, subject or key word.

I need a form to return information to you. How do I get it?

Forms are available for use with PNA and PERB. Be sure to read the instructions for each type of form as the requirements do vary. Generally, you are required to submit the original and several copies. The number of copies depends on the form. The original may require notarization and cannot be submitted electronically but must be sent by Certified Mail.

Please be sure that the form is filled out completely, or it will be returned to you.

On the election form for representation, it requires 30 percent voting. Is that 30 percent of the union or 30 percent of those covered by the contract?

It is 30 percent of the individuals who will be covered by the agreement being negotiated. The election will be conducted by mail. The Office of Labor Relations sends a ballot to each voter and counts the ballots when they are mailed back.

What if I have other questions?

You can contact the Kansas Department of Labor Office of Labor Relations at:

Phone:(785) 296-5000 ext. 1068
Fax:(785) 368-6462
Mail:401 SW Topeka Blvd.
Topeka, KS 66603

I have a question about wages I earned that were not paid to me. Can you help me with that?

Questions about unpaid wages and other Kansas workplace laws such as breaks and child labor are under the jurisdiction of the KDOL Employment Standards unit. Contact Employment Standards at:

Phone:(785) 296-5000 ext. 1068

What about my public pension plan? Is KPERS subject to labor relations?

No, the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System is not part of the Office of Labor Relations. You can contact KPERS at:

Phone:Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. toll free, (888) 275-5737 or in Topeka, (785) 296-6166
Fax:(785) 296-0196
Office visit:Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (please call for an appointment)
Mail:611 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 100
Topeka, KS 66603-3869