Rebuffed by Legislature, Christie goes for major regulatory changes through Civil Service Commission

By Mark J. Magyar

Tired of waiting for the Democratic-controlled Legislature to send him a new civil service bill to replace the one he vetoed two years ago, Gov. Chris Christie is pushing sweeping changes through a Civil Service Commission he effectively controls.

Gov. Chris Christie.
Gov. Chris Christie. Credit: Governor's Office/Tim Larsen
Christie’s civil service overhaul is the latest in a series of high-profile battles with public employee unions that have defined his governorship and propelled him to national prominence. These have ranged from school vouchers and merit pay for teachers to a landmark pension and health benefits bill that not only forced public employees to pay more, but also eliminated the right of unions to bargain on health benefits for four years.

The Christie administration’s proposed civil service regulation would effectively reduce and consolidate the number of job titles by eliminating competitive examinations for promotions within broad “job bands,” giving managers greater flexibility in deciding which employees to promote.

Christie asserts that stripping away civil service restrictions will make government more efficient and thereby enable local governments to lower property taxes. But union officials say the proposed changes will substitute patronage and favoritism for merit in the promotional process.

“This latest Christie scheme to gut civil service will create more patronage and corruption at all levels by putting every single advancement at the mercy of political pressure,” Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey area director for the Communications Workers of America, said yesterday.

“The whole point of the Civil Service system is to prevent managerial decisions based on politics,” said Adrienne Eaton, chair of Rutgers University’s Labor Studies and Employment Relations Department and also president of Rutgers’ American Federation of Teachers/American Association of University Professors chapter. “This would undermine that principle.”


Similar Posts