Tennessee state employees oppose Gov. Haslam's civil service changes

Tennessee state employees oppose Gov. Haslam's civil service changes

February 14th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by Tracey Trumbull/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee State Employees Association today said Gov. Bill Haslam's administration refuses to compromise on the "most harmful provisions" of a Haslam bill the group says damages workers' civil service protections.

"Unfortunately, the governor's people were unwilling to remove or compromise on the provisions most harmful to state employees and to the people of Tennessee, leaving TSEA no choice but to announce our strongest opposition to the bill," said TSEA Executive Director Robert O'Connell.

The Republican governor's bill eliminates rules that give priority to senior employees during layoffs, allowing them to move into positions occupied by less senior employees. Haslam has denounced the "bump and retreat" rules as absurd.

The TSEA said it would effectively let the admininistration "get rid of employees they don't like under the rules of eliminating a 'position.'"

Other provisions eliminate scoring job applicants on their experience, training, education, and test results. The TSEA says it also moves to a "pass-fail" system where administrators can hire any applicant who only possesses what the employees' group says is "the bare minimum qualifications for the job."

Haslam has argued the current civil service system is inefficient in comparison to the private sector. State employees counter that it threatens to bring back the days of "patronage" when officials hired supporters and whomever else they pleased with taxpayer dollars. Haslam says he can be trusted not to do that.

The bill faces its first test Wednesday when it is scheduled to come before the GOP-controlled House State and Local Government General Subcommittee.