What the electorate doesn’t realize regarding the layered protection for public employees is that the protection is doubled in many cases. The recent federal court decision making teacher tenure unconstitutional should help mitigate some of that protection.
When civil service rules are in effect for public employees in addition to union work rules, there is in effect a double-tiered layer of legal protection for public employees.
Recently Bourne went to the legal mat and lost a decision to have fire department officers separated from the the rank- and-file union, the logical reasoning being that officers have a built-in conflict of interest in any disciplinary reporting or acting as a management entity when paying dues into the same union as the rank and file. Only in Massachusetts, California and maybe New York could the municipality be found to have no rights to management authority on shifts where the chief is not present.
Fire department deputy chiefs and other officers have only the management authority that the union or that civil service will allow. The practice of allowing deputy chiefs and senior officers of the fire department in the same union bargaining unit as the rank and file is fundamentally absurd. The police, on the other hand, have at least separated the patrolmen from the senior officers and are represented by a different union entity.
The officers and chiefs of any civil service-represented department need to become supervisors in the true meaning of the word. This means that they become nonhourly and individually contracted employees with a comprehensive management and disciplinary role in representing the municipal/taxpayers’ interest.
Don C. Hayward