Following Thursday’s ruling undoing changes to New Jersey public workers’ promotions system, Senate Democrats who mounted the case along with labor unions praised the court’s decision. The plaintiffs in the suit argued that Governor Chris Christie’s 2014 change to the Civil Service Commission’s advancement policy would have undermined public workers’ ability to earn promotions on their own merits.
The change put state employees into groups of “job bands” with others sharing similar titles and functions. Supervisors then were given greater discretion as to who could advance within their own “band” with less consideration for factors like their scores on the civil service exam or an independent assessment of their performance.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney defended Senate Demorats’ decision to pursue the case in a statement on Friday.
“I led the legal effort on behalf of the Legislature because I believe it is important that we ensure that our responsibility in the lawmaking process is honored. It is a constitutional standard that is at the foundation of the governing process,” Sweeney said. “The court found that the Legislature ‘validly exercised its authority under the Legislative Review Clause and correctly invalidated the Job Banding Rule,’ and it granted all of the relief requested by the Legislature. This is a forceful decision in support of workers’ rights.”
State Senators Linda Greenstein and Bob Gordon joined Sweeney, calling the decision a victory for the workers.
“Civil service was created to safeguard hiring and promotion practices for state workers, making sure that they are fair, competitive, and based on merit,” Greenstein said. “Public employees deserve the vital protections that have been in place and proven successful for many years. I applaud the Court for its decision to invalidate the job banding rule, protecting the competitive process of hiring and promotions, and to uphold the Legislature’s authority.”
“The job banding scheme sought to undermine the very system that was put in place to protect against cronyism, nepotism and discrimination in the hiring and promotion process. It was a direct threat to public workers and their civil service protections,” Gordon said.