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Quincy to review hiring practices for laborers

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 28, 2012 04:09 PM

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After years of controversy and confusion surrounding civil service rules, Quincy officials are hoping to change the policy for hiring and promoting laborers in the city.

According to City Solicitor Jim Timmins, the Civil Service Commission used to keep a list of applicants for labor service jobs. When they city wanted to hire someone, the commission would take names from a list of applicants - compiled in the order they applied for jobs – and supply double the number of necessary names, plus one more.

Over time, the database became too cumbersome, and so the commission handed off the “list” responsibility to cities and towns.

Yet with hiring freezes that lasted months, when it finally came time to hire someone for a labor position, the list was too outdated to use, Timmins said.

“If you use the two-plus-one [formula], and you want to hire one guy and look at the first three people on the list. We can’t talk to them or they are working, and what do you do beyond that?” Timmins said.

The confusion hit a peak in 2007, when several city employees appealed promotions granted in the previous administration.

“There was a bit of a scrum in the labor service – the DPW and park department employees, and ended up with a number of people filing appeals. What happened was a certain group got promoted, the ones who didn’t appealed. When civil service issued rulings and overruled a promotion, the person who had been promoted then filed an appeal,” Timmins said.

That appeal process would eventually lead the Civil Service Commission to mandate in 2010 that the city start to fix the problem by reviewing all the labor service positions and redo the job descriptions.

Timmins said the city has been working to that end, and completed the process in December.

However, with another recent appeal, the city must take a further step to fix the problem by coordinating how the “list’ system is used.

The mandate was issued in a ruling on Sept. 20 by the commission. The city is required to meet with the commission on Nov. 5 to work out how the situation should be handled.

“I’m suspecting we will try to meet with local union people, confirm some things with Human Resources Department before that date civil service has set. We’d like to go into that pre-hearing conference with a proposed plan of how we want to deal with things,” Timmins said.

City officials are welcoming the chance to analyze their hiring and promotion policies within labor jobs.

“This is a statewide issue, and we are happy that the Civil Service Commission has decided to review these issues as they relate to Quincy and look forward to any guidance the Commission may have,” Timmins in a release. “We hope that the guidance provided by the Commission will also extend beyond Quincy for cities and towns across the Commonwealth which are dealing with these identical issues.”

To read the ruling, click here.

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