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Thousands of Arizona state workers drop protections

PHOENIX -- Thousands of Arizona state government workers are opting to give up civil-service job protections in favor of getting short-term pay increases and the possibility of other gains down the road.

State Human Resources Director Kathy Kathy Peckardt says nearly 5,300 workers voluntarily changed their status to ``uncovered'' under the state personnel system.

That's 38 percent of the total of nearly 14,000 workers eligible to make that decision under Gov. Jan Brewer's makeover of the state government personnel system.

Those dropping the civil service protections get an extra 5 percent pay over the next 19 pay periods.

State officials say the changes approved by the Legislature last spring make state government's personnel system more responsible and productive.

Critics unsuccessfully argued that the changes open the door to cronyism and political favoritism.

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