A Periodic Publication of Wisconsin's Association of Career Employees
By Sally Drew, President
ACE Action on Civil Service Legislation
ACE members testified at both the Senate and Assembly hearings on proposed civil service legislation SB285 and AB373.
Jim Thiel testified on October 6 at the Senate hearing and Sally Drew and Kathy Fullin both testified at the October 15 Assembly hearing. There was a great deal of testimony and registration against this legislation at both hearings.
Yet, this bill appears to be fast-tracked for committee executive action on Wednesday, October 21. There is a possibility that ACE could influence this legislation if citizens contact Republican legislators outside of Dane County. Legislators’ questions at the hearings indicated that they were not very familiar with civil service statutes and did not understand why these changes were important.
Contacts that explain why civil service matters and how damaging these changes could be are very important. Even if your legislator is a Democrat, you probably know a friend or relative who lives in another part of the state. Send them this email and ask them to contact their legislator. Email and phone contact information is available through this website – just enter the constituent’s address under “Find My Legislators” http://legis.wisconsin.gov
A copy of the ACE testimony follows.
The Association of Career Employees urges the Legislature to
Reject the Civil Service Changes Proposed in SB285.
This legislation is not needed and does not address the problems that have been alleged to exist. The changes will not support hiring according to merit and will not encourage retention of employees. The examples given are unpersuasive and speak as much to administrative problems as to employee misconduct. By consolidating all hiring and personnel decisions in DOA, it is unlikely that hiring will be faster.
The proposed changes seem to have three major purposes:
I. TO ENABLE A PATRONAGE HIRING SYSTEM. Make it easier to hire according to political persuasion rather than merit. This will lead to a patronage system rather than an improved civil service system. Features of the proposed system that will help accomplish this end include the following:
- Consolidation of authority to hire all employees into the most political of all of the state agencies, the Department of Administration, and away from individual agencies and the supervisors and managers responsible for overseeing the job activities. Will supervisors and managers even have a significant role in the decision-making process?
- Dropping the exams that job candidates take in favor of a resume system. A resume system will provide less information about what employees know and the impact of their experiences and will allow selection to be more subjective. An achievement history questionnaire provides far more relevant information related to a specific job than does a resume.
- Eliminating the requirement that competition for a vacancy in the classified service must be limited to members of the classified service, and eliminating the authority of the director to limit competition for promotional opportunities in certain circumstances.
II. TO ELIMINATE CIVIL SERVICE PROTECTION FROM IMPROPER POLITICAL INTIMIDATION. Make state employment “at will” employment without protection for being terminated for political reasons. Features of the proposed system that will help accomplish this end include the following:
- Extension of the standard probationary period for all original and promotional appointments to permanent and seasonal positions in the classified service from six months to two years with a potential waiver after one year. During a probation period a person can be fired without showing just cause. At what point will employees be given full fringe benefits and relief from fear of arbitrary actions?
- Expanding the definition of just cause to include work performance or personal conduct that an appointing authority determines to be inadequate, unsuitable, or inferior. This is so broad that it could include policy disagreements, attending political events, making political contributions, and other activities that would not now be considered just cause.
III. TO CLEANSE THE RANKS OF EXISTING CLASSIFIED CIVIL SERVICE EMPLOYEES. Make it easier to get rid of classified state employees and therefore creating more vacancies to fill under the new rules.
- Limiting reinstatement privileges to permanent employees who are on layoff status.
- Reducing the reinstatement period to three years instead of five years.
- Eliminating reinstatement for employees who leave for any reason other than layoff.
- Eliminating restoration rights for permanent employees in the classified service who are laid off on or after the effective date of the bill.
- Permanently maintaining all employee files and prohibiting the removal of disciplinary records from employee personnel files. This means someone cannot overcome past mistakes and could lead to new managers looking for ways to get rid of long-term employees using the new just cause definitions.
- Eliminating an employee’s ability to “bump” a person of lesser seniority within the same classification range.