A political columnist for The State Journal-Register, he is a native of Springfield and was graduated with a B.S. in journalism from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He has written about politics and government in the capital city for the past six years.

The administration is a-changin'

Is a state job secure?

Even in patronage oriented Illinois, indications are that political firing is on its way out. With 40,000 of the state's employees under union contract, the Supreme Court's anti-patronage decision and Gov.-elect Thompson's pledge not to fire rank-and-file Democrats, nonpolicymaking jobs should be safer than in the past. But, political hiring is still in, and reorganization might offer an excuse for layoffs

THE TURNOVER in state jobs that usually follows a change of administration will probably be much smaller this year than in the past. Consider these factors:
1. Ten times as many state employees (40,000 compared to 4,000) have been organized and are under collective bargaining agreements since 1973. Employees can look to unions for support against political firings.
2. The courts have turned against patronage firings, at least as applied to the rank and file. As recently as last June, the United States Supreme Court, although divided 5-3, found that patronage dismissals restricted freedom of political belief and association.
3. Gov.-elect James R. Thompson, during his campaign, pledged not to fire nonpolicymaking employees for political reasons. He cited the Supreme Court opinion as a reason.
4. The two-year term of office of this administration may make it more difficult to recruit qualified party members for political jobs, if this involves leaving a job where they feel secure.

But some important qualifications attach to the above:
1. Policymaking positions are exempt from tenure protection provisions of thePersonnel Code. Neither do the courts see any reason to safeguard the jobs of those who make policy.
2. If there is any extensive reorganization of state government (as candidateThompson indicated there could be), this might be the way to abolish many jobs and later create new ones.
3. The fact that many people are out of work increases the pressure on the politicians to find jobs in state agencies for unemployed constituents.

When Gov. Dan Walker issued Executive Order No. 6 on collective bargaining September 4, 1973, he argued: "This will go a long way in keeping patronage out of state government. Equally important, it will encourage qualified people to join state government and make the serving of this state's citizens a professional career."

Role of employee unions
The Illinois General Assembly did not approve collective bargaining for state employees. However, when appropriations were approved for the agencies which had negotiated contracts with employees, state Rep. Donald Totten (R., Schaumburg) said: "What we've done, without a doubt, has honored the collective bargaining agreement."

Nolan Jones, Walker's director of the Department of Personnel, said approximately 40,000 of the state's 65,000 employees are under collective bargaining contracts. Prior to the executive order, Jones said approximately 4,000 employees had "memorandums of agreement, " a form of collective bargaining. They now have formal contracts, he said.

The unions representing state employees are the American Federation ofState, County & Municipal Employees; the Teamsters; the Meat Cutters; the Federation of Teachers; the Machinists,and the Nurses Association. The Illinois State Employees Association, which served as the traditional spokesman for employees for years, does not hold collective bargaining rights for any group of employees. The unions whichdo represent employees cross all agency lines, and they are statewide unions.

William Hanley, a former assistant to Gov. Richard Ogilvie who is now engaged in the private practice of law inSpringfield, described the effect ofcollective bargaining on the patronage system.

"The influx of collective bargaining has made a lot more jobs secure,"

January / 1977 Illinois Issues / 3

Sometimes a job is simply abolished, or an employee will be told he or she has to take a sizable cut in pay. There is also the geographical transfer to an undesired part of the state

Hanley said. "A union now has the financial resources available to protect an employee who has been fired for political reasons. What can an employee do who gets fired or laid off? In the past, whether he has been a patronage employee or not, he has usually taken the political channel and gone through his state representative or his county chairman. The unions now supplement that. The unions are substituting for political organizations. Employees can run to labor organizations now if they want to."

Role of the courts
The courts, in recent years, have tended to side with employees on the question of political firings. The patronage system was dealt a blow by a series of cases involving a suit by Michael L. Shakman of the Independent Voters of Illinois against Democratic and Republican officials.* In 1972, the federal district court in Chicago held that governmental employees could not be coerced into making political contributions or doing political work, but permitted political firings as long as these were not based on refusal to contribute or work. It was not until June 1976 that the U.S. Supreme Court went beyond this and forbade political firings. Then, in a case which originated in the Cook County Sheriffs Office, Elrod and others v. Burns and others, Justice William Brennan, Jr., said, "The practice of patronage dismissals clearly infringes First Amendment [free speech and free association] interests."

The court agreed with the Cook County officials that there is a need to ensure that the will of the electorate is carried out by public servants in sympathy with the policies of elected officials. But it said these interests can be protected by replacing persons in policymaking positions and not rank-and-file workers. In a dissent. Chief Justice Warren Burger said patronage issues are "political questions properly left to state legislatures rather than to the courts." (See Illinois Issues, Sept. 1976, pp. 28 and 29.)

Hanley, who has handled numerous lawsuits for employees who claim they were fired for political reasons, explained the ruling this way: "In effect, for the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled — for all different reasons, but it was clear — that political beliefs are First Amendment rights. A termination of employment because of political beliefs is unconstitutional."

Policymaking as a test
Thompson pledged during the campaign that he would not dismiss rank- and-file Democrats hired by Walker. "The Supreme Court ruled an employee cannot be fired for political reasons, " he said. "I agree. If anybody who is now a devoted, hard working employee in a nonpolicymaking position, wants to stay, he can." He even said that a Democratic county chairman who holds a nonpolicymaking position can stay, as long as he performs his job. But he added: "People in policymaking positions must be the governor's people."

How many employees in each department make policy? This may depend on the new governor's definition of policymaking. In the Department of Personnel, Director Jones considers six or seven positions as policymaking out of a total of more than 500 employees.

The Personnel Code provides also for the exemption of positions which "involve either principal administrative responsibility for the determination of policy or principal administrative responsibility for the way in which policies are carried out." The Civil Service Commission must approve such exemptions; the commission listed 149 such exempt positions in November.

Effect of two-year terms
Job changes this time could also be affected by a unique situation in Illinois government. The governor — and the other state elected officials — are serving two-year terms which expire in January 1979. The two-year term was established by the state Constitution for this election so future candidates for state office will not be elected at a time when the president is elected.

Thompson said while campaigning that he did not think the length of his term would have much of an effect on employees except that it could make recruitment of middle-management executives more difficult. Some persons might be reluctant to leave private industry in order to join government with a job guarantee of only two years. Most department directors are appointed by law to two-year terms, but they are routinely confirmed by the state Senate for a second term in order to complete the governor's term.

Right after his election Thompson singled out two departments — Public Aid and Children and Family Services — where he would most like to have his own director. But as a practical matter, several of the directors appointed by Walker left government prior to the election or made plans to do so. Allyn Sielaff, Corrections, took a similar position in Wisconsin; Robert Allphin, Revenue, assumed a Revenue job in Pennsylvania; Tony Dean, Conservation, joined an investment firm in Chicago; and Robert Wilcox, Insurance, accepted an offer in the insurance industry.

Reshuffling agencies, jobs?
A major emphasis by candidate Thompson was his desire to reorganize state government. Some observers think that when the county chairmen and legislators start pressuring Thompson to fire Democrats, the reorganization plan would offer a valid excuse for layoffs. Thompson responds by saying: "Reorganization will not be used as a subterfuge to avoid the impact of the Supreme Court ruling."

But if the new governor turns out to be more patronage-minded than he appears, it would not surprise those

4 / January 1977 / Illinois Issues

familiar with Illinois' long history of being one of the most patronage oriented states in the nation. Gov. Walker and his staff used to contend that traditional patronage did not exist in their administration. Walker's critics disagreed, arguing that the only difference was that Walker did not fill positions through regular party channels because he was at odds with many of the party regulars. Instead, they say, he hired many rank-and-file workers who were known to be personally loyal to him by first placing them under contractual services and having them take and pass a civil service test later.

A major blow to the patronage system came when Gov. Adlai Stevenson (1949-52) obtained legislation placing the State Police under a merit system. Gov. William Stratton (1953-60) persuaded the legislature to enact the present Personnel Code. Upon the completion of his term, Gov. Richard Ogilvie(1969-72) placed maintenance employees of the Department of Transportation under the Personnel Code, and the action was later upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The secretary of state's office has been a traditional haven for patronage jobs, but that is changing too. A number of lawsuits were filed as the result of Republican John Lewis' massive dismissals following Democrat Paul Powell's death. As a result, Director Jones said most of the employees of the office will be under the Personnel Code before Democrat Alan Dixon is sworn in as the new secretary of state.

With the changes in the state executive officers, it seems likely that there will be some personnel changes. Besides the governorship and lieutenant governorship going from Democrat to Re-publican, the comptroller's office has switched from Republican to Democrat.

Fighting the system
It is not a simple matter for employees to fight what they consider a dismissal for political reasons. Nor is it easy for an employee to prove that a discharge was because of party affiliation.

Sometimes a job is simply abolished and the duties spread among a number of other employees. At other times an employee will be told he or she has to take a substantial pay cut because the job's responsibilities do not match the salary. Or there is the geographical transfer to an undesired part of the state— or simply taking away the person's office, telephone and desk.

"Part of the problem is the disparity of resources," Hanley said. " A laid-offemployee must first find a lawyer willing to take his case. In some cases, these fights last three years or longer. If the employee wins, all he gets is back pay—minus any unemployment compensation or salary he might have earned from other sources. And all the while he loses important fringe benefits such as health insurance, life insurance and retirement benefits. For an individual to fight city hall, it is a real burden. On the other hand, the government in any given case has unlimited resources. The government can appeal and appeal."

If an employee thinks he or she has been dismissed for political reasons, the employee can of course appeal to his or her immediate supervisor. The employee can also appeal to the director of the department, and then request a hearing before the director of the Department of Personnel. If the employee is certified under the merit jurisdiction of thePersonnel Code, he or she may appeal to the state Civil Service Commission. In cases that appear to involve discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry or physical or mental handicap, the individual may ask the Fair Employment Practices Commission to investigate. If such attempts fail, the employee can hire an attorney and file a lawsuit in an attempt to win back the job.

Looking for a job
But what about those on the outside who are hopeful of finding a job with the state now that a new administration is coming in? According to Hanley, most of the court activity has focused on political firings with scant attention paid to political hirings.

"It's still who you know and not what you know," Hanley said. "The ticket of entry is still politics. Don't call it civil service. When you get a list of three from civil service, you can still hire a Republican or a Democrat. There is no protection against a patronage hiring. This is denial of equal protection under the lawand discriminates against the public atlarge."

Hanley, it would seem, would like to break the legal silence which now exists on the entry of employment into government jobs. ˛

Political appointees can fill these posts

POSITIONS involving "principal administrativeres ponsibility" for making or carrying out policy are exempt from the merit jurisdiction of the Personnel Code and so available for appoinments by an incoming administration. The Civil Service Commission listed 149 positions by agency in that category as of November 1. Federally funded positions usually are not eligible for such exemption.

Exempt policymaking positions


Business and Economic Development
Children and Family Services

Financial Institutions
General Services

Law Enforcement

Local Government Affairs
Mental Health
Military and Naval

Mines and Minerals
Public Health
Registration and Education

Boards and commissions

Commerce Commission
Delinquency Prevention
Human Relations
Dangerous Drugs

Environmental Protection Agency
Fire Protection, Personnel Standards
Governor's Office of Manpower and
  Human Development
Historical Library

Law Enforcement Commission
Liquor Control
Local Government Law Enforcement
Officers Training Board
Racing Board

State Employees' Retirement System
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation


    2 (2)*

    13 (2)*

    7 (3)*

    25 (2)*





    9 (4)*
    4 (1)*

149 (14)*

Figures in parenthesis show number of incumbents incertified or probationary status which means theycannot be fired without civil service action.Source: Civil Service Commission

January 1977 / Illinois Issues / 5

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