WASHINGTON — Job retraining funds granted
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor is granting $700,000 to Maryland to help retrain and relocate employees who have been dislocated by recent Defense Department cutbacks, according to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., and Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.
The grant, which will provide job counseling, job search assistance and retraining, is expected to help 800 employees from Westinghouse Electric Corp. in Hunt Valley and at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Litton's Amecom Division in College Park, and Bendix Corp. in Towson.
"In these tough times, this assistance will provide a support system so these workers and their families can get back on their feet and back to work," Mikulski said.
The grant comes from an emergency fund for dislocated workers under the Job Training Partnership Act.
The grant will be administered by the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development through the Anne Arundel County Office of Manpower, the Baltimore County Department of Community Development and the Prince George's County Private Industry Council.
Amecom and Westinghouse laid off workers when the Pentagon canceled the A-12 attack plane. Bendix is reducing its labor force because of a stop-work order on another project.
Mikulski and Bentley have been working to get the Pentagon to reconsider their decision on the Bendix project, saying the firm would have a competitive advantage if a new contract is awarded.
The Pentagon is not re-evaluating its decision to cancel the A-12. President Bush's request for a 9 percent increase in administrative account funding and 1,000 additional full-time employees for the Social Security Administration doesn't pass muster, a Baltimore union president has told a Senate panel.
"The SSA's need for dramatic increases in funding for staffing is indisputable," recently said John Gage, president of Local 1923 of the American Federation of Government Employees.
The request is "a very small step in the right direction, but it is still not nearly sufficient to provide the services necessary to carry out SSA's responsibilities," Gage told an Appropriations Committee subcommittee on labor, health and human services and education.
SSA has lost 23,000 employees in six years while the population it serves has grown by about 10 percent, Gage said, asking that an additional 6,000 full-time employees be funded in fiscal year 1992.
At the same time, Congress has expanded or altered SSA's services, he said, and there "is literally no staff to handle these increased workloads."
National Treasury Employees Union members nationwide rallied last week to protest hazardous conditions in offices and to pressure Congress to enact legislation giving them opportunities improve their situations.
Unlike their colleagues in the private sector, federal workers don't have an avenue for recourse when management ignores recommendations from the federal Occupational Safety and +V Health Administration.
"We can't depend on the good intentions of management," NTEU President Robert Tobias said. "It isn't that management is ill-motivated. It's that management isn't motivated at all."
The House Education and Labor Committee is considering an amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which outlines the steps that employees in the private sector can take to change dangerous or unhealthy conditions at work, Tobias said.
The House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service is considering separate legislation exclusively for federal employees, he said.
NTEU, which prefers its own legislation over an amendment, wants federal workers to be given the right to enforce safety and health standards on their own, Tobias said. "You can't require a federal judge to fine a federal agency," he said.
The union also wants federal offices to abide by standards established by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health instead of those created by OSHA.
NIOSH standards are tailored to offices, and OSHA rules are geared more to industries.
A bill giving medical professionals in the Department of Veterans Affairs the right to bargain collectively and to use a negotiated grievance procedure has cleared Congress and is now waiting for the president's signature.
The measure extends these rights to DVA doctors, nurses and other medical professionals for the first time, according to Janice Lachance, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Government Employees.
"This legislation represents a major breakthrough for AFGE, which fought long and hard to give federal medical professionals . . . the same collective bargaining and grievance protections pTC under law that other DVA workers have enjoyed for years," said AFGE President John Sturdivant.
The bill permits grievances on everything except issues involving direct patient care.