In 1905 Wisconsin rejected patronage as the basis on which hiring and firing should be determined for state employees. On Tuesday, Oct. 6, the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform will hold a public hearing on a bill, not formally introduced as of today which would gut the essential structure of Wisconsin’s civil service.
The Wisconsin LWV has strong positions in favor of merit recruitment and selection for state employees who implement programs, investigate complaints, and/or manage employees. (The League recognizes that high level policy-making positions are appropriately appointed in a different manner.) Here are the League's positions (scroll down to Civil Service): http://www.lwvwi.org/IssuesAdvocacy/GovernmentStructuresProcedures.aspx
In contrast, the legislative proposal (LRB-2783/1 and LRB 3389/1) which will be considered at Tuesday's hearing does the following:
· replaces the examination process, which is currently used for hiring, with a resume based process. Resume review is inherently more subjective and susceptible to political influence than an objective process that looks at specific achievements and skills.
· “just cause” to discipline an employee is defined as “performance or conduct that is inadequate, unsuitable, or inferior.” Could the definition of “unsuitable” be interpreted as comments supporting a candidate or position opposed by the current administration?
· all personnel authority would be consolidated into the Department of Administration, which is headed by what newspapers routinely call “the Governor’s top aide” and is recognized as the most partisan of state agencies.
CALL TO ACTION: League members should contact their state senators and assembly representatives to express their opposition to the civil service bill, which would return Wisconsin to the discredited system of patronage hiring and firing for state employees.
For contact information for your legislators, go to: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ and enter your address near the map of Wisconsin under the heading Find My Legislators.
Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director
League of Women Voters of WI