A bill signed by Gov. Cuomo Nov. 28 will provide a chance for nearly 5,000 provisional city workers to be appointed to their jobs permanently.
The amendment to the 2008 Civil Service Law, designed to reduce the number of provisional workers in the city’s labor force, allows the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to administer a one-time “Qualified Incumbents Exam” for 194 titles, as long as they do not have upcoming open-competitive exams.
Need 2 Years on Job
Provisional workers who have been in their jobs for at least two years when they apply are eligible to take the exam.
Under the new law, offering the incumbents’ exam would prevent “potential operational and budgetary dislocation, as well as potential difficulties in labor relations” that would come from needing to replace 4,700 employees in the 194 titles.
It also provides a 60-day period for the city to create a new “comprehensive revision” of the plan and submit it to the state, giving the two governmental bodies 18 months to create a final “provisional-reduction plan,” which would take effect by Nov. 1, 2018.
‘Opportunity For Mobility’
District Council 37 was one of several city unions that strongly supported the bill, said Executive Director Henry Garrido.
“We really wanted to make sure we weren’t allowing just another extension,” he said. “It allows hiring of people who have been serving in their jobs for years, placing them permanently and giving them due process.”
Provisional appointments are limited under state law to nine months, but it has been routine during the past 40 years for workers to retain that status for years without having to pass the appropriate civil-service exam for their title. Because of that, they often gain proficiency in their job duties that agencies say can be difficult to replicate by someone appointed off a hiring list after passing an exam.
Unions that share that view also claim it is unfair to provisionals who haven proven themselves capable employees to be fired, notwithstanding the Civil Service Law requirement.
Arthur Cheliotes, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1180, said the bill ensures that “anyone performing these jobs won’t suffer because of the city’s failure to hold exams.”
‘Passed Their Practical’
“We can’t forget that the purpose of the civil-service system is to ensure there are qualified workers serving the city,” he said, and the open exams and appointment lists are only one part of the process.
“The other part is the probationary period, which is like a practical exam. These people have already passed their ‘practical exam’ and demonstrated their ability to serve the City of New York,” Mr. Cheliotes said. “This will give these workers the job security they need.”
According to the bill, candidates on the list generated from the incumbents’ exam would be appointed after anyone on the promotion list, but before candidates on the open-competitive list.
Key Union Priority
Mr. Garrido said the approval of the amendment was one of DC 37’s highest legislative priorities this year.
“We were so adamant because, come Dec. 31, all of these provisional employees would have been replaced,” he said, noting that it would be “impossible” for the city to list, test and appoint nearly 5,000 employees by that time.
“The civil service is an opportunity for upward mobility for a lot of people,” he said. “These people have been there for a long time, and getting them due process is key. That’s what a union is supposed to do.”