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February 4, 2011

Re:      Conditional Veto of Civil Service Reform

Dear Mayor:

Yesterday, Governor Christie issued a conditional veto of A-3590, which permits collective bargaining on matters covered by civil service; requires civil service examinations to be offered on continual basis; creates title reduction task force; and requires posting of lay off plans.  As previously noted, the League opposed A-3590, as it was sent to the Governor.  (See our December 13th letter).

In the conditional veto Governor Christie stated, “Unfortunately A-3590 fails to deliver true reform and, if approved in its current form, would not produce meaningful cost-savings or increased operational efficiencies for local government entities.  While the bill does contain some worthwhile reforms such as extending the working test period, providing for 9 month seasonal appointments and making terminal leave payments optional under certain circumstances, the legislation fails to deliver the fundamental civil service reform provided in the toolkit, most notably on opt-out and temporary lay-offs (commonly referred to as furloughs).”

The conditional veto would permit a municipality to opt-out of Civil Service by a public question to be voted at a general election or a municipal election, if one is held.  If the public question passes, the recession shall take effect on a date established by the Civil Service Chairperson.  The date can be no less than 6 months and no greater than 1 year.  If the public question fails, no new election may held on the same question before the second general or municipal election.  If a municipality approves the public question, the municipality is not being permitted to readopt Title 11A for 10 years.

An employee with permanent status in a title on the effective date of a Title 11A rescission shall retain only those rights to a Civil Service Commission hearing available to career service employees upon disciplinary removal from government services pursuant to N.J.S.A. 11A:2-13 or to challenge the good faith of a layoff pursuant to N.J.S.A 11A:8-4. 

The Civil Service Commission shall promulgate rules providing for the orderly transition from Title 11A to non-civil service.  Such regulations shall provide that any appointing authority that has adopted the recession shall submit to the CS Chairperson for approval its ordinance, resolution or manual setting forth personnel policies and procedures to be followed after the rescission.  Such policies shall, at a minimum, provide for the terms and conditions of employment not otherwise covered by collective bargaining agreement, such as appointment, promotion, leave, employee performance, discipline and other related areas. 

Following the rescission the appointing authority may enter into a contract with Civil Service Commission, for a fee, for testing, classification, compensation or other technical personnel services.

In addition, the conditional veto also:

  • Requires the Civil Service Commission to announce and administer exams on a continual basis where practicable;
  • Requires the Civil Service Commission to accept examination application fees through their website not only by credit or debit card;
  • Removes the requirement that an appointing authority use the eligibility list to fill a vacancy or appoint a provisional;
  • Permits seasonal appointments for a maximum of 9 months.  The conditional veto removed the specific titles but requires the Chair of the Civil Service Commission to approve the titles for the 9-month seasonal appointments;
  • Removes the requirement to post the submitted lay-off plan, including analysis and calculations prepared by the appointing authority, on the Civil Service Commission’s website;
  • Removes the requirement for public employers and majority representatives to enter into  agreements to avoid or reduce lay-offs through temporary lay-offs and other reductions in work time;
  • Permits, instead of requiring, the negotiation of disciplinary procedures;
  • Removes the requirement that if an agreement is not reached that the procedure be subjected to binding arbitration;
  • Removes the ability to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment;
  • Eliminates the Civil Service Title Reduction Task Force as well as the prohibition on of the creation of a new title for 6 months during the task force review;
  • Removes the requirement that when creating a new title the appointing authority shall submit a report to the Civil Service Commission for approval;
  • Permits a temporary lay-off plan for economy, efficiency or other related reasons.  Temporary lay-off plan is defined as the closure of an entire layoff unit or staggered layoff for each employee in a layoff unit for 1 or more work days over a defined period.  The defined period is determined by the appointing authority. However, in staggered layoffs the maximum period to stager 1 day off shall not exceed 45 days.  A temporary lay-off plan is considered a single layoff action;
  • In the case of temporary layoffs, representatives of the public employer shall consult with the majority representatives of public employees over such plans.  Failure to reach an agreement shall not prohibit the public employer from instituting temporary lay-off plans.

While the Governor’s conditional veto is a compromise, we are disappointed that the Governor and Legislature did not reach an agreement prior to the issuance of the conditional veto. 

If you have any questions or need additional information please do not hesitate to contact Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.com or 609-695-3481 x112.

Very truly yours

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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