By: Camille Respess
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How Changes to Merit Laws Affect Missouri’s Workers
Major changes to Missouri’s 70-year-old Merit System for state employees have taken hold this year.
According to Missouri’s Office of Administration, the merit system’s purpose is to “protect employees from arbitrary actions, personal favoritism, and political coercion.”
Prior to this years’ change, The Jefferson City News Tribune reported that 56 percent of state workers were covered by the merit system.
Three unions are arguing in a lawsuit that the new law, Senate Bill 1007, which makes it easier for employers to fire their workers. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs (unions) wrote, “Senate Bill 1007 made drastic changes to essential terms and conditions of employment for state employees by purportedly designating them as ‘at will’ employees, thereby subjecting them to termination for ‘no reason or any reason,’ with the exception of a small group of state employees who are required to have merit system protections pursuant to terms of federal funding.”
The three most palpable effects of Senate Bill 1007 are the removal of testing requirements to qualify for a job, the cancelation of the former appeals process for a Merit System employee who was disciplined or fired and the change in the definition of all state employees as “at-will” to their employers. This means they can be fired at any point in time for any or no reason at all, as long as it doesn’t directly violate the law.
So, without the merit system, Missouri state employees lost some of their prior protections.
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