As reported by nj.com, the Civil Service System governs how thousands of public employees in New Jersey are hired, promoted, and fired. Currently, employees receive jobs and move up based on examinations. But under the proposed changes, to be voted on by the State Civil Service Commission, some jobs would be grouped together as part of a “band,” allowing managers to move employees from one position to another without exams. The State says this will streamline promotions and save money.
Critics, though, say the changes would lead to cronyism, discrimination against women and members of minority, and make it harder for military veterans to obtain jobs and promotions. They also claim the Christie administration has tried to sneak the changes through by having the Commission hold only one hearing on the matter.
The resolution (ACR199/SCR158) says the Civil Service Commission has 30 days to amend or withdraw the proposed changes, or the Legislature may vote on another resolution to “exercise its authority under the constitution” to invalidate them. The State Senate passed the resolution 24-13 and the State Assembly passed it 46-32.
According to the resolution, the State Constitution says that appointments and promotions within the Civil Service System must be made “according to merit and fitness” through competitive examinations. “In order to best serve the public, government requires competent professional employees who are hired through a fair process,” Assemblywoman Linda Stender, the resolution’s co-sponsor, said in a statement. “Civil Service is in place to constitutionally guarantee public access to publicly funded jobs. We must have safeguards in place to ensure that elected or appointed officials do not turn public employment into their own personal hiring agency.”
Christie said last week that despite what critics claim, the changes would not eliminate a rule that gives military veterans first shot a public jobs. The Commission, a panel of five members appointed by Christie, has not yet announced when it will vote on the changes.
The Communications Workers of America, the State’s largest public employees union and one of the most vocal critics of the proposed changes, released a statement praising the resolution. “We’re heartened the Democrats are holding the Christie Administration accountable for his attempt to hold back veterans, the disabled, women, people of color and LGBT workers while opening the floodgates to cronyism and patronage.”