Not at work for you—oh God no!
As he prepares to leave office, Governor Deval Patrick is quietly transferring 500 of his managers into the state public employee union, a move that will qualify them for a series of 3 percent raises and insulate them from firing when the next governor takes over.
The change will automatically convert 15 percent of the 3,350 executive branch managers into members of the National Association of Government Employees, which has been fighting for the change for years, arguing the employees were “improperly classified” as managers.
While smaller clusters of management positions have been converted into union positions in the past, this is the largest sweep into the union in at least two decades, according to administration and union officials.
Rolling the managers into the 22,000-member union will effectively protect them from any house-cleaning that might occur when the next governor takes office in January — a particular likelihood if Republican Charlie Baker were to take over after eight years of Democratic leadership.
Union employees generally have to be removed “for cause,” while managers serve at will.
“With just a couple of months to go in the current administration, this has the whiff of a job protection action just before the governor leaves office,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute, a conservative research organization.
The election to replace Patrick is barely two weeks away, and he pulls this stunt. One could almost dismiss it as Massachusetts being Massachusetts, but for the size (unprecedented) and the timing (cynical). This is Patrick (mini-me to Obama) being Patrick. Still, if it means he’s finally gone, it might actually be worth it.
Eric Kriss, who was secretary of administration and finance under Romney, was critical of the decision. “What this will do is continue to reduce, as has been done since the 1960s, any layer of what you would call managers,” he said. And once managers are moved into the union, “removing anybody is virtually impossible,” he said.
Here’s the state government, Governor Baker. Don’t choke on it.