The firing of the controversial executive director of AFSCME Council 67 two weeks ago has been overturned by the national union president, who ruled that one of the executive board members voting for the change was ineligible.
The decision retains Glenard S. Middleton in the top staff position of Council 67, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 14,000 municipal and county workers in Maryland.
The nine-member executive board voted April 11 to replace Mr. Middleton, and his supporters appealed to National President Gerald W. McEntee. Mr. McEntee ruled that Belton Sutphin, who cast the deciding board vote, was ineligible because he had retired from the Baltimore County school system and had not paid active dues.
The day after the board's vote to replace Mr. Middleton with staff representative John H. Carter, a fistfight broke out in the parking lot between adherents of the two factions. Five people filed assault charges with the police.
"We have a sticky situation," said Council President Carol Ann Buttrum, who said she is undecided whether to appeal Mr. McEntee's verdict to the national executive council of AFSCME.
She said the president rejected her arguments that Mr. Sutphin's dues payments had been rejected by Council 67 officers loyal to Mr. Middleton.
Ms. Buttrum, who can vote only in case of a tie, said that Mr. Middleton's supporters apparently have a majority on the Council 67 board.
That majority could select a replacement for Mr. Sutphin, who would serve until the fall 1993 election of officers and give them a 5-3 margin. One of those council board members could lose his seat in July, when the City Jail becomes a state agency. Ronald Jackson, the board member employed as a jail guard, is a supporter of Mr. Middleton.
Mr. Middleton, who has held the director's job for 1 1/2 years, has remained in the organization's offices on West Ostend Street during the appeal.
He placed four staff members on disciplinary leave Monday and accused them of engaging in a strike. Mr. Middleton also informed the staff that the executive board, which is scheduled to meet Friday, will determine disciplinary action that could include firing.
Since getting the top staff job less than a month after his election as Council 67 president in December 1989, Mr. Middleton has been under attack by a number of AFSCME local officers for alleged inaction, unresponsiveness to local needs and lack of financial accountability.