Personnel management never has been a strength of state government, and last month the Yankee Institute revealed that it’s getting worse. For according to the institute’s investigative reporter, Mark E. Fitch, at least one of the state employee unions, the Administrative and Residual Employees Union, has just negotiated a new contract that will allow many of its 3,000 members to “telecommute” to work — that is, to work from home — for as much as half their weekly hours.This union likely will be only the first of many with such a privilege, Fitch writes, for the master contract signed by the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition with the Malloy administration in 2017 requires that telecommuting be offered, when “feasible,” to all state employee union members.Of course, as Fitch reports, employees allowed to work at home will be supposed to be doing their jobs and not, for example, watching television, shopping, babysitting, or working on Democratic campaigns. (The General Assembly approved the SEBAC contract on a party-line vote, Democratic legislators in favor.) Even so, bars now have strong incentive to install wireless internet service. After all, what supervisor back at a state office building will be able to tell if a telecommuting employee is home or “working” from a more convivial location?
Ensuring that productivity is maintained in telecommuting will require much more effort from state government’s managers. But most are managers in name only, since they are unionized themselves and thus not fully loyal to their employer.So now, in addition to their many gratuitous paid holidays not enjoyed by private-sector workers — here comes Columbus Day again — state employees soon may be able to make any day a snow day or a paid sick day that isn’t charged against the ample paid sick days they already enjoy.Yes, telecommuting is gaining popularity in the private sector too. But then, unlike state government, most private-sector businesses have competition and thus some incentive to perform well, their managers are not unionized and so can be held accountable for their departments, and employees who goof off can be dismissed.Portentous as the telecommuting provision for state employees is, no news organization in the state seems to have reported about it. That is convenient for the unions and their tools the Democratic legislators. But even Republican legislators seem too scared of the unions to let the public know what’s happening. So to stay informed maybe people should sign up for the Yankee Institute’s free newsletter:https://yankeeinstitute.org/about/
Public administration is often just as poor at the municipal level, especially in the cities.The New Haven Independent reported the other day that the city’s school system is paying nearly $400,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a wheelchair-bound teacher with multiple sclerosis. A new principal took away the teacher’s dedicated parking spot near her school’s only handicapped-accessible entrance and told her to use a door with a six-step stairway. The teacher’s appeals for reconsideration were ignored for a year as the school defied federal law’s requirement to make “reasonable accommodation” for the handicapped. So eventually the teacher sued, and now she’s rich.State government reimburses half of New Haven’s budget. Because of its own expensive contempt and incompetence here, the city’s school system now will clamor for more state aid.—–Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer.