MAGE Calls for Defeat of Civil Service Bills
Today the House Workforce and Talent Committee reported out legislation that would seriously undermine Michigan's decades old Civil Service system. Civil Service was established in the Michigan Constitution as a bar to politically motivated employment practices in state government. House Joint Resolution MM and House Bill 5677 would create giant loopholes in that system that would return us to the days of political favoritism and cronyism in state government offices.
This legislation represents a two-fold goal of the bill sponsors. First, it will grant state department heads much greater freedom to purge their ranks of employees who hold different political beliefs and replace them with like-minded allies regardless of merit or competency. This would wrongly return us to the days when state workers were hired more for their political connections and loyalties than for their competency.
Second, it creates a convenient smokescreen to shield the Snyder administration and legislative leaders from the massive policy blunders that have led to the poisoning of Flint's water supply, inhumane treatment of patients at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home, the looming bankruptcy of Detroit Public Schools, and many other failures in leadership. This legislation represents the lowest form of politics - that of passing the buck and scapegoating 38,000 hard working Michigan citizens who staff our prisons, care for the sick and needy, and protect our parks and natural resources.
Worst of all, this action perpetuates the myth of the "lazy" or "incompetent " state worker who cannot be fired because they have civil service protections. Every workplace has employees who do not perform adequately, and like other workplaces, the Civil Service system provides for discipline and termination if warranted. Over 300 state workers were terminated last year alone, with hundreds more being disciplined, receiving corrective actions or even being suspended. The Civil Service system provides due process and protects against politically-motivated hiring and firing, but it does not allow poor-performing employees to continue working indefinitely as the sponsors of this legislation make it sound.
The Civil Service Commission itself - comprised of gubernatorial appointees with an equal number from each political party - has unanimously condemned this legislation as unnecessary. They recognize this as a solution in search of a problem.
However, they stopped short of calling it what it truly is: a transparent attempt to deflect blame for disastrous policy decisions by perpetuating false stereotypes against Michigan state employees. Michigan voters should not let the backers of this proposal reinsert politics back into state employment. This legislation should be soundly rejected. Please call your State Representatives and Senators today!
Click here to read the testimony provided by Charles Blockett, Retired Civil Service Commissioner