As reported in NJ.Com, a New Jersey appeals court Thursday struck down controversial changes Governor Christie’s administration unilaterally made to the state’s civil service system. The Appellate Division on the New Jersey Superior Court stated in its decision that the state’s Civil Service Commission was wrong to push forward with the “job-banding” changes over the objections of the state Legislature, which voted numerous times to invalidate the regulations.
The ruling is a victory for the Legislature’s Democratic leaders and a pair of public-worker unions: the Communications Workers of America and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 195. All of them sued to reverse the changes.
Christie’s administration could carry on the fight by petitioning the State Supreme Court to take on the case. Leland Moore, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said the office is “reviewing the decision” and declined further comment.
Under the rule changes made by the Christie administration, the Civil Service Commission was allowed to group some positions together as part of “job bands,” allowing managers to promote workers without the need for competitive exams. State officials said the goal was to save money and make the process more flexible.
But union leaders, Democratic lawmakers, and other critics of the Republican governor, said the new rules would open the civil service system up to the kind of political patronage, nepotism, and discrimination it was created to guard against.
The Legislature passed numerous resolutions in 2013 and 2014 to invalidate the changes, saying they violated the legislative intent of the state constitution. But the Civil Service Commission — whose members are appointed by Christie — made minor amendments each time to keep the new rules alive.
But writing for the appellate panel, Judge Douglas Fasciale said the Legislature “validly exercised its authority” and that the commission’s amendments “consistently ignored the Legislature’s steadfast substantive objection to job banding without competitive promotional examinations.”
This is yet another decision striking down the one sided policy initiatives instituted by the Christie Administration against public employees. Inauguration Day, 2018 can’t get here soon enough.