Civil service staff recommends rule changes shouldn't be adopted


Posted on April 21, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 21 at 5:36 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- There was a small victory Monday for opponents of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's "Great Place to Work Initiative."

The civil service staff now recommends that several of the rule changes not be adopted.

The initiative sparked concerns that the mayor's reforms would take away protections for city employees.

Community leaders packed the City Council chambers Monday as city officials pushed for the adoption of the Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Good Place to Work initiative.

“This plan does not eliminate the civil service department,” said Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin.

It's a plan to reform the civil service commission. In all 34 rule changes were proposed.

The city says the changes are necessary to make the city's hiring, performance review and promotion process more efficient. But opponents of the changes say this would be devastating to the fire and police departments.

“When you can start picking and choosing who you want to promote and who you want to give pay raises to, it inevitably opens the door to appointments and promotions to friends and supporters,” said Donovan Livaccari of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Police officers and firefighters make up 50 percent of the city employees who would be affected by the changes, and with recruitment and staffing at all-time lows in both departments, opponents say the city can't afford to chase away good city employees by taking way their rights in the workplace.

“They are running short, they are putting their lives at risk,” said Nick Felton, president of the New Orleans Firefighters Association. “So yes, they are looking for other opportunities, and we shouldn't have our employees looking for other places to work.”

The city argues that the changes would not violate the state constitution and would not dismantle the Civil Service Commission, but the civil service staff said differently.

The civil service staff says it has several concerns over the removal of oversight and the possibility that some of these rule changes are unconstitutional, which is why they recommended that public hearings be held on every section of the initiative, along with more meetings with the administration before any final decisions are made.