Rick Trachsel, union organizer
Gov. Jeb Bush plans to change Florida’s career service system even though it’s not broken. The present system was actually instituted under the leadership of former Republican Gov. Kirk to end the politcal patronage which resulted in the termination of employees every time the party in power was changed.
The proposed changes would be to the disadvantage of state employees. In the event of termination, it would be up to the employee to prove that he/she should not be fired. As much as 25% of the work force will be laid off. The classification of the majority of the remaining employees will be changed from career service to serve-at-will. This means they will receive no advantage from their seniority in the event of a layoff. They can be fired at the discretion of the supervisor.
Large sectors of state business will be privatized, including food service, laundry, people who manage foster care placement and child abuse cases etc. This will make the elimination of state jobs easier. The private-sector companies will likely take mostly, if not only, the easiest cases. Thus, the state will be left with the most difficult cases to manage.
Bush has also worked to eliminate the intangible tax, thereby increasing the tax burden on low income and working people.
State employee service expenses are cheaper per capita in Florida than any other state.
The bill to initiate Bush’s “Service First” plan has passed the House. Rudy Garcia has introduced the bill into the FL Senate. The state employees’ union, AFSCME, has opposed Bush’s plan but there is antagonism toward unions in both parties.
AFSCME will stage a “Death of State Service” march, a public protest of this legislation on Saturday, April 21 at 10:00 am. They will gather at the O’Connell Center parking lot and march along University Avenue to the intersection of 13th Street where a wreath will be laid.