An arbitrator ordered the state’s Probation Department Monday to reopen 10 jobs that were originally filled up to seven years ago, concluding that leaders of the scandal-plagued agency improperly promoted less qualified, politically connected candidates.
Arbitrator Tammy Brynie’s long-awaited decision means that hundreds of employees who originally applied for the positions when former commissioner John J. O’Brien was in charge will be offered an opportunity to apply again. It means that the successful candidates, who in most cases are still on the job, will have to reapply for their positions and could be removed.
“We’re overjoyed, “ said David J. Holway, president of the National Association of Government Employees, which sued the trial court to refill the positions. “Now we can get this behind us so the whole Trial Court can move forward.”
The union had filed grievances when the promotions were originally handed out, saying the losing candidates were at least as qualified as, and had more seniority than, the successful candidates. At the time, arbitrators rejected the union’s claims amid assurances from the Probation Department that the hiring process was fair.
But the union sued to reverse the decisions after the Globe and the Trial Court’s independent counsel, Paul F. Ware Jr., found in 2010 that O’Brien oversaw a rigged hiring process. Ware said that hiring and promotion decisions were “orchestrated from beginning to end in favor of connected candidates.”
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