We’re currently fighting a plan to reduce workplace protections for civil servants. House Speaker Kevin Cotter and Republican Rep. David Lauwers have introduced two proposals — House Joint Resolution MM and House Bill 5677, respectively — that would make it easier to fire state workers, even if they have done nothing wrong. These proposals make it possible to set low-level state workers up as scapegoats for the bad decisions made by political appointees, such as governor-appointed department heads.
It’s already possible to fire state workers who aren’t doing a good job. Last year alone, more than 300 state workers were fired. They were terminated after due process, which ensures that the firings are the result of poor performance, and not trumped-up charges or to create job openings that directors can fill with friends or family members. These proposals take away that due process, and would make it possible for directors to pin the blame for their own decisions on powerless, low-level workers.
Proponents claim that this legislation is needed in the wake of the Flint water crisis, which they say was created by mistakes made at all level of government. But House Republicans have done nothing to hold department heads appointed by the governor or governor-appointed emergency managers accountable for their role in the disaster. It’s clear that House Republicans have no intention of truly learning from the mistakes of Flint. Instead, they want low-level workers to pay for the mistakes made by their superiors.
Meanwhile, thousands of families still subsist on water bottles in Flint, while House Republicans have done nothing to begin the work of replacing the damaged water pipes. House Democrats are fighting to restore clean, safe water to Flint, and to hold accountable everyone who made the Flint water crisis happen.