13 state Military Department workers fired Military Dept. latest state agency to resort to job cuts to alleviate budgetary problems.

June 14, 1991|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Evening Sun Staff

The state Military Department has joined the ranks of state agencies eliminating jobs to balance their budgets.

Thirteen security guards at two armories will lose their jobs and a 14th vacant position will be eliminated so the department can pare $479,000 in personnel costs from its 1992 budget, Col. Howard S. Freedlander, the department spokesman, said.

Today, representatives from various state agencies were to meet with the affected employees to counsel them on benefits and possible jobs at other state agencies, such as the Division of Correction.

The security guards are just the latest to lose their jobs because of state budget problems, which have affected employees as diverse as meat inspectors, workers at St. Mary's College, the Baltimore Regional Planning Council and the Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Under state guidelines, the losses are not layoffs, as Joseph Cook of the Maryland Classified Employees Association is quick to point out, but firings because the positions themselves are eliminated.

If the affected workers do not find jobs within other state agencies, they lose all seniority and bumping rights.

"It's like they never worked for the state," said Cook, director of field communications for the union. MCEA plans to continue challenging the legality of terminating jobs, he said, which allows agencies to sidestep the more stringent guidelines for lay offs.

The Military Department, whose budget for 1992 is 15 percent less than its 1991 budget, had to cut positions at specific sites so it could avoid closing any of the state's 20 armories, Freedlander said.

"We feel we're already cut to the bare bones and this was our last resort," he said. "We did not make this decision easily. It was made with a lot of anguish and study."

The unlucky 13 -- some of whom have up to 20 years of state service -- work at the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore and the Montrose Military Reserve in Reisterstown.

The Military Department is responsible

for the state's National Guard units and in peacetime reports to the governor. However, only 274 of its 1,500 employees are actually on the state payroll. The rest are federal employees.

One of the affected employees, Sgt. William Barb, has 14 years with the state. "Every one's got some state time to lose," said Barb, who chose state employment for what he thought would be lifetime job security.

Lance Cornine, executive director of MCEA, said similar "little pockets of people" will probably continue to lose their jobs as agencies try to meet their 1992 budgets, either through terminations or layoffs.

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