by Tim Gierman
I learned the importance of the Union early on in my 27 year career with the DNR, Wildlife Division, when I saw the impact that politics can play when there is no or little contract protections in place.
The terms we negotiate in our contracts are as much of a protection for me, the employee, as they are for management. Without our contract, there would be little to no guidance on overtime, seniority, or time off. Our contract serves as a tool for management to reference just as much as we employees now have a tool for accountability and rights.
Unfortunately, this guidance and my guarantee of pay raises and other benefits is under attack. In August, Governor Snyder’s Civil Service Commission appointees proposed rule changes that threatened State employees’ right to negotiate and instead grant the State far more power in determining our rights on the job.
While my job is very important to me, and not just because it pays the bills, but because I have a passion for the work I do, my son is also very important to me. It’s the time off provided by my contract that allows me to spend quality time with him, engaging in a hobby we both enjoy – riding dirt bikes – that has brought us closer together. I fear these new proposed rules would strip away the ability for me to schedule time and take vacations so that I have time to spend with my son.
Scheduling and vacations are just two of the benefits my coworkers and I have won over the years. We’ve also been able to secure terms that help to create fairness in the workplace, stop nepotism and cronyism and hold government accountable for quality public services.
Serving the public quite frequently has to do with following department rules and regulations. Ensuring that these rules and regulations are set by logic and efficiency and not politics and greedy corporate values is imperative. However, the Governor’s Commission appointees’ proposals put self-interested politicians and their greedy corporate cronies before the public and civil servants.
The current system is not without fault, but does have checks and balances that ultimately serve the citizenry of the state well in maintaining a professional core of employees. The proposed rule changes in front of the Civil Service Commission would lead into a “spoils” system, ultimately tainting the work force, forming it into a political entity and serving only that part of the citizenry which is connected or in favor with the election cycle.
I would sincerely ask that the Civil Service Commission reject these proposed rule changes in the hopes that there could remain a truly professional work force of state employees to better serve the citizens of this state.