Reformed system, new regulations awaited

Major proposed changes in the state’s personnel system — guaranteed to impact all 2,995 classified staff at Washington State University — were slated to be announced this week from Olympia as WSU Today went to press. Propelling these changes is the Personnel System Reform Act of 2002, which calls for several major actions:

• Restructuring the state’s civil service job classification system by reducing the number of job classifications statewide. The Department of Personnel has announced that it intends to reduce the number of job classifications from 2,500 to about 1,200. Implementation of the new classification system is slated to begin on Jan. 1, 2005.

• Adoption of a new set of civil service rules to be approved by the Director of Personnel. These rules will govern the terms and conditions of employment of classified employees who are not in collective bargaining units. The new rules will become effective on July 1, 2005.

• Establishing collective bargaining agreements that will set terms and conditions of employment for classified employees in bargaining units. WSU will negotiate contracts with the unions that represent those bargaining units. The president and/or his delegate will represent the administration. The new collective bargaining agreements will become effective on July 1, 2005.

• Development of rules, by the Departments of Personnel and General Administration in Olympia, to implement a system for competitive contracting. This system is intended to authorize state agencies in certain circumstances to seek competition from the private sector and employee groups to do work normally done by state employees. These rules are slated to take effect July 1, 2005.

“The hardest question to answer right now,” said Richard Heath, associate vice president for administration and human resources, “is what will the rules that apply to employees who are not part of a classified bargaining unit look like.”

Heath said agencies and employees across Washington are awaiting the unveiling of a draft of the new state civil service rules. That announcement, he said, could come as early as Nov. 26.

The Legislature’s intent in making these major changes to the state’s civil service law is to modernize the personnel system and make it more efficient and effective. The Department of Personnel reported that it has reviewed other human resource systems in the state and nationally, and solicited input from employees and managers prior to beginning development of the new rules.

“WSU looks forward to the opportunity to implement this new system, either through collective bargaining or through the new rules,” Heath said. “This is an opportunity to tailor the human resource system at WSU to meet the needs of a major research university and its employees.”

WSU has 2,295 classified staff employees who are covered by the state’s civil service system — 1,294 or 56 percent are included in a bargaining unit, and 1,001 or 44 percent are not in a bargaining unit (administrative/professional employees, student employees, and faculty are not affected by this reform act.)

WSU’s three bargaining unit representatives are the Washington Federation of State Employees, the Police Guild, and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

For more information, go to http://hr.dop.wa.gov/hrreform and watch your local daily newspaper.

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