The case for shifting all hiring duties for the Austin Fire Department to the employer — the city of Austin — is more compelling now that a federal agency has found that minority applicants for the Austin 2012 cadet academy were victims of discrimination.
It should be a given that the employer, Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, control hiring. That isn’t the case in the Fire Department, where the firefighters union shares authority for hiring cadets. No other city department works that way, including the Austin Police Department, where Police Chief Art Acevedo controls hiring. And it shouldn’t work that way at the Fire Department, whose system is antiquated, harkening back to a time when cronyism ran amok in some fire departments across the country. Austin needs a hiring system to meet its current demands and goals. Clearly, the current one is broken.
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