Table of Contents
Background of the Study
Equality and due process are two fundamental democratic principles that influence overtime the formulation of public policy on the issue of the existing inequality in US. On one hand, the process of equality has transformed the American society. Inequality process hurts the general moral of the entire society so that philosophers reject discrimination and advocate equal opportunity. Public policy makers take into account this view point .Nowadays; women, blacks, and other minorities can vote and hold office. In the US Amy, blacks And whites fight in the same units. According to the Supreme Court, all children, regardless of their origin should be educated in the same school. On the other hand, the due process enhances the equality of all citizens before the court. The two principles are interconnected and are suitable to promote a fair employment practice, an ideal work environment and generate diversity in the workplace. From the same perspectives, this paper examines a case scenario in which the actors, members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) -State of Maryland Public Employees section, fought for employees rights especially, the equality and due process. History repeat itself and AFSCME Maryland has won many battles that strengthened the solidarity and the unity of all its members. Of Course the State of Maryland Government itself led by Governor O’Malley, state senators and many non profits organization got involved in that query of good governance in favor of public employees. This paper used a framework set forth in the guidelines for case scenario. In this article, both the theoretical and the conceptual framework are used by the researcher to answer the research questions. The author drew the conceptual framework from the disciplinary fields of public policy, sociology, economy and management. The theory used in this study is the incremental policymaking insight that emphasizes on the best outcomes. This paper is articulated around a background of the study, the variables involved and the relationship among them.Finaly, the researcher took position by drawing conclusion from the data collected through observation, contents analysis and interviews of some experts.
Background of the Study
Two organizations are involved in my study: The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The first one is the State of Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Its mission is the Public Safeguarding and its vision is to have its employees develop a leadership in order to provide to all Marylanders an environment free of criminal behaviors. The department employs more than 11 000 people. The essential of the personnel is composed of the State Correctional Officers and the State Police Troopers. These two categories of employees, because of the delicate mission of public services they carry dealing with dangerous and violent criminals are subject to disciplinary action due to excessive use of force or violation of policies designed to create and maintain safety and security for the general public ,the offenders and for the employees themselves.
Until 2010, the DPSCS Standards of Conduct and Internal Administrative Disciplinary Process were applicable and were found obsolete and lacked of due process principles. Employees through their exclusive Union (AFSCME) raised the question of government institutions and policy capacity. Public policy should not tyrannize people. But the ways Government make decision is not immutable .They are subject to change under the influence of citizens and policymakers seeking to ameliorate government performance and embrace new approaches to public policymaking process.
In that context, in which the State of Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services' main mission is the public safeguarding, most of the employees are uniformed officers such as State Police Troopers and State Correctional Officers. As such the organization is structured taking into account the paramilitary system based on hierarchy, ranks and absolute subordination regulated by policies and post orders. Nevertheless, at the beginning of each shift all employees of the agency meet in order to discuss issues related to work condition, ethics and conduct. During this “roll call” employees submit concerns and suggestions to their supervisors in order to improve the way the Department mission and vision must be implemented. The supervisors in turn will convey the employees’ messages to the first line of the management having the ability to interpret or amend policies.
As noticed the involvement of the employees in the decision making process is not significant. There is no vote in the roll call. Instead there is a kind of participation where the managers ask other people for their opinion and ideas, then makes the decision alone after seriously considering their suggestions and concerns. But because of the nature of the job and the mission of the Department, democracy will be less effective and might undermine the discipline attached to the tasks to be accomplished where direct orders from the superiors must not be challenged.
However when it comes to disciplinary action, police officers and correctional officers asked for more democratic princinples.Most of the time they look for more due process and equality. The due process has its roots in the fifth amendment of the US constitution. Indeed the Constitution protects citizens from being deprived from their property, life, liberty without a fair judgment. In public employment, the procedures used to terminate an employee is not that simple. The supreme court in its célèbre decision of Loudermill t under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments set two conditions (prior notice, opportunity to be heard) to deprive a public employee from a constitutional protected property interest. Furthermore, to be terminated just cause should be provided by the employer. By doing so, the employer ensue that the rule of law with its corollary of equality principles are applied. The rule of law means that no one is above the law; even government is not above the law and should apply kwon law. This principle treats every equal before the court such as , Aristotle as well as many ancient philosophers believed that "Law should govern" .
Before being selected as a COBR board member, I was a member of the bargaining unit and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).I used my transformational leadership skills to inject into the DPSCS policies of disciplinary action more due process methods in order for leaders and followers in the Department to reach an understanding agreement and elevate employees to a higher level of morale and motivation. The objectives or goal of this action is to put in place policies that create a work environment free of fear. In order to achieve this outcome, the Union negotiated with the government a new standard of conducts where the employees will judge themselves by a board composed of 100% of employees and the decision made by this board will be imposed to the employer. This new method has the advantage to increase employee’s participation in the decision making process and therefore promote good governance. Indeed citizen participation in the public policy decision-making process is critical in US political system. Policymakers look for information to clarify the dynamics of particular issues in order to define the action to take to resolve the problems.
The basic democratic principle that sustained this case scenario was the freedom of association. Employees expressed their viewpoints by saying that they need a more fair disciplinary process .The first amendment of the Bill of right is the constitutional provision that guarantees and protects people to express freely their opinion. Based on this provision, the Correctional Officers through their union engaged in an open discussion and debate with the government. Additionally, another democratic governance principle applied in this study is participatory democracy. Participatory democracy means more direct involvement of citizens in the public policy decision making process. In this type of democracy principle, citizen, organizations, private sector as well as public agencies submerge their self interests in the pursuit of the collective interest or general will. Citizen’s direct involvement shapes the policy process.
The policy networks involved the governor, the House of delegate, the State Senate and of course the Correctional Officers through the AFSCME.The Correctional Officers bill of right (COBR) were passed unanimously because of the interconnection between the different actors in the process. Governor O’Malley played a key role in convincing many senators and delegates of the house. The bill is similar to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights and offers more developed due process right to a Correctional Officer being disciplined. Second the bill provides an appeal procedure held by the Correctional Officer hearing Board. Finally, unless proven guilty, the employee is considered innocent until a final decision is reached. The employee will remain in function with all benefits until found guilty.
The strategies used is the collective bargaining punctuated by a bilateral decision –making in which the Governor and the AFSCME ,in good faith negotiated the Correctional Officers Bill of Rights.Initially,the concern of the Management was budgetary problem. But the Union proposed a set of methodologies that lowered the cost of function of the Board such as voluntarism of the members, simplified procedures such as informal process, counseling and one on one discussion, mutually binding written contract.
The President of the Union used a participative leadership in which delegation and empowerment of all the members produced an effective result. For instance, the tasks were divided and any members could represent the Union at all levels provided he or she followed the road map defined by the organization. The advantage of that type of leadership implemented helped the organization saving time and money. The organization also used strategies such as democratic management, power sharing, consultation and joint decision making.
Technology played a crucial and decisive role in achieving our common goal both the Union and the Government. Both organizations have their respective websites where the two parties could present their opinions about the issue of the Correctional Officers Bill Of Rights. As the Maryland populations were ready to elect a new Governor in 2010,year of the COBR negotiation, the AFSCME has lunched a campaign publicly supporting the reelection of Governor O’Malley. O’Malley in turn, voiced support for better condition of public employee especially those in charge of the Public Safety in order to decrease the high crimes rate within the State.
- Quote paper
- Anani Charles Koudouovoh (Author), 2011, Essential Concepts and Principles of Democracy. The Correctional Bill of Right State of Maryland, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/198364