We'll testify before this committee," says KESPA President Nancy Toombs, "and bring along stubs of 13-cent and $6 paychecks that were eaten up by health care premiums, to show that our members--many of whom are single parents--can't survive on full-time salaries of $8,000 to $11,000.
KESPA has registered big progress legislatively in 2000 despite a daunting challenge: For the first time in 100 years, Kentucky's House and Senate are controlled by different parties.
There was tremendous infighting and many bills were dying daily," notes KESPA Executive Director Dick Dickerson.
KESPA grassroots lobbyists won the respect of legislators.
Lawmakers were quite impressed by the statistics we were able to garner to back up our need for legislation," adds KESPA lobbyist Betty Watson.
Once alerted by staff monitoring the legislature, KESPA local affiliates in the Frankfort area dispatched volunteer lobbyists to committee hearings and even the Capitol cafeteria.
Even the 80 members of Daviess County KESPA made themselves heard.
As the ink dries on these new laws, KESPA members are already gearing up to fight for improvements in the next legislative session, like decent raises and more pension credit.
Kim Nelson: "I have never worked with a group lobbying effort any stronger than the one led by the KESPA team.
Even without a collective bargaining law, KESPA has negotiated in school districts where it has strong membership--and achieved impressive results.
But, in unorganized Kentucky districts, support staff "have no rights and don't even receive their paychecks in envelopes," says Breckinridge County KESPA President Dottie Ballard.