Standards for State Employment? Who’d Have Thought?

An op-ed from Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director John Marion raises one of those issues that is apt to make the average Rhode Islander wonder why things don’t work that way already:

The key to solving this [hiring] problem [in the General Assembly] is to put in place sound human-resources practices — in this case an employee-classification plan. This plan would contain a salary structure to be used to guide who is paid how much, and for what work. With this plan in place the public could hold the General Assembly responsible for any raises that deviated from the salary structure for any given job. …
Determining what is necessary to do a job requires you to look at the job content, the job context, the intensity of the mental processes required and the effect of the work on results. The content of a job includes which knowledge and skills are necessary to complete the work, including any specialized knowledge. The job context includes the conditions the person works in, such as the seasonal nature of different tasks. Looking at those factors you can create a job description to then be used in recruitment or performance evaluation for that position. Those who do the hiring, in this case the leadership of the General Assembly, would have to justify hires, raises or promotions on the basis of objective qualifications for the position.

In areas dealing with union labor, the contracts do some of that work, but that only highlights additional ways in which such a system would benefit the public — by moving matters of employment further from the negotiating table.
In any event, the reform is so obvious and straightforward that it would surely require a concerted fight over at least a decade to even bring it into the realm of possibility. For the time being, we should just try to make names like that of Senate Majority Leader Dominique Ruggerio’s special assistant, union-boss son Stephen Iannazzi infamous.

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