The union that represents employees at the Maryland Port Administration said it is worried that layoffs scheduled at the port won't be handled fairly.
MPA director Adrian Teel yesterday said as many as 46 people could lose their jobs at the end of October in restructuring designed to reduce deficits at the port. He announced plans to eliminate 72 positions, some of which are vacant.
Teel said workers will be evaluated on performance and in terms of whether their jobs contribute to the MPA's mission of increasing cargo shipments.
The MPA is using performance-based criteria because of a new personnel code it adopted two years ago.
Until that time, seniority was the prime factor in determining who lost their jobs during cutbacks.
Joseph Cook, director of fiscal services with the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which represents MPA workers, said the union is worried that a performance-based criteria is too subjective.
"It's something we hope to change in the future," he said.
The port's new personnel system is not all bad, he said.
Under the new plan, workers get severance pay and health insurance coverage for a period of time based on length of employment. Such benefits were not offered under the old plan, he said.
Cook also said he was optimistic that worker morale will improve under Teel's leadership because he has shown a willingness to communicate with workers and involve workers in decision making.
Teel said the reorganization and staff reductions will save about $3.1 million a year, and should reduce the projected deficit by about half that amount by next June.
Analysts had projected a $5.5 million deficit in the current fiscal year.
Teel said he also is looking at other ways to reduce the deficit. He said he considering a cut in the $100,000 the port contributes to the Pride of Baltimore, the state's goodwill ship, and the Maryland International Division, which oversees the state's trade efforts.
Another option is cutting $155,000 for harbor cleanup by placing that item in the budget of another state agency.
In addition, Teel said, efforts will be made to improve revenues by working to increase cargo shipments through the port and exploring money-making alternatives for land the port owns but does not use.