N.J. COURT REJECTS CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION JOB BANDING RULE

The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court repudiated Governor Christie’s Job Banding Rule and all amendments, reversing all NJ Civil Service Commission (CSC) decisions implementing the rule.

“For over a century, the Civil Service System has been based on the idea that people are appointed and promoted based on a system of objectively-determined merit and fitness. From his first day in office, Governor Christie has been obsessed with dismantling this fair, transparent system which protects the public from patronage and discrimination,” said CWA NJ Area Director Hetty Rosenstein. “So, I am extremely heartened that the Court repudiated Christie’s sneaky scheme to dismantle civil service by ignoring the will of the people, the legislature, the law and our system of checks and balances.”

In 2012, the Christie Administration attempted to job band all Civil Service titles—which would group together civil service job titles into a “broad band” of titles, thus allowing management to freely move and promote workers from lower to high titles regardless of fitness or merit.

Governor Christie’s sweeping changes to the promotional process for non-uniformed state workers gutted modest taxpayer protections from political patronage. Christie’s scheme sought to create more patronage and corruption at all levels of government. Christie’s plan lumped workers into “broad bands” of job titles— limiting valuable public oversight of which employees are performing specific tasks.  It replaced promotions for workers based on objective qualifications and done based on a transparent and objective testing process with “advancement” through the employment “bands.”  The “advancement” would be done solely at the discretion of management. It would not be subject to minimum qualifications requirements or public oversight.  And it could allow politically-friendly workers to get ahead, at the expense of those who are deserving.  Christie was undermining promotions for those deserving and subjected promotions to the whims of political pressure.  Simply put, Christie’s proposal handed power over to politicians and backroom players, at the expense of both good government and New Jersey’s taxpayers.

Moreover, Christie’s changes also allowed his administration to gut veterans’ preference in promotions for most positions in state government. Since the testing process is the only place that veterans’ preference exists in New Jersey Civil Service, it replaced a clear commitment to our state’s veterans with a “trust me” system.  Management would merely be directed to weigh veterans’ status in their own minds when making decisions about advancement.

Between June 2013 and 2014, CWA successfully got the New Jersey Legislature to—not once, but twice— pass Resolutions that voided the Civil Service rules that allowed for this. In spite of those Resolutions, Civil Service disregarded the Legislature’s veto that voided the rules and attempted to implement the job banding of Department of Transportation titles and Office of Information Technology titles. CWA, joined by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, filed an appeal against the Governor’s Civil Service Commission for violating the resolutions taken by the Legislature.

These measures Civil Service Commission was seeking to go around had been on the books for over a century, and were deemed so vital to fairness in public service that they’re written into the N.J. State Constitution. So obviously, there was widespread condemnation against Christie’s plans – from  Civil Rights organizations, veterans, people with disabilities, women’s organizations and public watchdogs, etc.  And today, all these folks have been vindicated by the Court.