A union representing state employees began mapping strategy last night to fight the layoffs scheduled in February for 33 workers at the Rosewood Center, home to 470 people who are severely mentally retarded.
Although the state maintains that the work force reduction was necessitated by the reduction of Rosewood's population by 105 residents over the past year, officials of Council 92 of the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees called it "the direct result of budget cuts" and warned that jobs in other institutions could be in jeopardy.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," said William Bolander, the union council's executive director.
Evelyn R. McCarter, a business representative for Council 92, warned that "the quality of care will suffer dramatically" because of the Rosewood layoffs and that "it can snowball and affect all state agencies as well."
About 30 union members attended the meeting at Council 92's headquarters on Ostend Street, most of them employees at the Owings Mills mental institution. But none of the workers given the 90-day advance notice of layoff was present.
Union officials outlined plans for lobbying legislators, demonstrating in Annapolis and at Rosewood and circulating petitions to assert the need for patient care.
State health officials have told Rosewood workers of plans to reduce the resident population to 294 by July 1992 and to reduce the work force from the current 1,095 employees to 860 -- mostly through attrition.