New law to simplify state hiring stokes concerns of political payback

A new law governing how state employees are hired took effect Tuesday amid concerns that it could enable political retaliation in hiring.

The state’s merit system dictates that most employees are hired based on performance on a standardized test. But the new law eliminates the requirement that employees rank among the top 15 applicants, or in the top 15 percent of applicants, to be hired. Now, applicants must meet only minimum requirements of their particular job class.

The law will also expedite the hiring process, which at times has led to three-month wait times.

Former Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, championed and signed the law before he resigned in June. It was part of a package under which Greitens said he would give small raises to state workers in exchange for greater ease in hiring, firing and rewarding them.

Greitens’ successor, Gov. Mike Parson, has also offered vocal support of the measure, saying it provides greater flexibility in state hiring.

But Natashia Pickens, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 6355, said the new law has stoked worry among members of her union.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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