A recent Cap Times article addressed Senate Bill 285, a bill proposed by the Walker administration and Republican leadership in Wisconsin this past fall. As the article states, this bill “would destroy key parts of Wisconsin’s 110-year-old civil service system.” These “key parts” of the system include everything from unemployment insurance, the dark money ban, to workers’ compensation.
Civil service ensures that public services are carried out by qualified workers who are hired based on merit. With civil service, the hiring of state employees is an objective process, and any firing of workers must meet “just cause.” Without civil service, those in political power could hire applicants that they favor, fire public servants without just cause, and reward those who helped them to be elected in the first place.
According to the Cap Times article, “The real impetus for this bill is the drive to expand the dominance of the party in power, and allow it to turn the 38,000-plus state employee work force into a partisan army.” The article’s author, Kevin Gundlach, president of the South Central Federation of Labor, goes on to say, “It can be inconvenient for politicians to deal with principled, independent-minded public servants instead of the yes-men and party hacks they are used to, but that is all the more reason for us to maintain a strong civil service system.”
The Wisconsin Coalition to Save Wisconsin Civil Service is holding a teach-in at the Capitol in Madison this month to fight for civil service in Wisconsin before the senate vote for SB 285 early this year. The public is invited to join the Coalition at the teach-in, to save civil service in Wisconsin. As the Cap Times article points out, “Citizens are the big losers if civil service disappears. Wisconsin state employees’ work touches the lives of every Wisconsin resident by delivering a wide variety of services. If civil service is lost, public agencies would have an open door to political patronage and influence peddling. Corruption and cronyism would flourish.”