Anne Arundel workers protest cut of 88 jobs

May 02, 1992|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff Writer

From Hammonds Lane to Arnold, Anne Arundel County union workers lined Gov. Ritchie Highway last night and this morning, venting anger against County Executive Robert R. Neall.

"You can't print what I want to say about him," said Anthony Hargrove, who works at the Cox Creek wastewater treatment plant in Pasadena.

The jobs of 88 county workers are being abolished under Neall's proposed $634 million spending plan for fiscal 1993. Mr. Neall's budget, unveiled yesterday, also takes the first steps toward a goal that is anathema to unions -- contracting out some county jobs to private firms.

Dozens of workers belonging to Local 582 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) picketed major intersections and handed out pamphlets attacking privatization as a potentially corrupt concept that will destroy county services.

Local 582 represents 900 blue-collar employees, many of them in the Department of Utilities. Sixteen utilities workers were notified yesterday that they soon will be out of work.

"It's been one terrible day," said the local's president, Marvin dTC Redding, a utilities worker.

Though rumors of layoffs have circulated all week, workers were "stunned" when they were given the bad news yesterday morning, said union Vice President Jim Bestpitch, who picketed at Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard in Glen Burnie.

"They feel betrayed," Mr. Bestpitch said. "They don't understand how the county executive can do this, and they don't understandwhy citizens are letting him."

County unions agreed to give up 3 percent of their pay last fall, after Mr. Neall appealed to them to help see the county through a fiscal crisis caused by cuts in state aid. Though the cuts will be restored under the proposed budget, county workers will not get cost-of-living raises for the second straight year.

Union leaders said they plan to deluge the County Council with protests this month in hopes that council members will persuade Mr. Neall to restore the jobs and limit privatization. The council itself has no power to put the jobs back in the budget.

Negotiations with Local 582 and another AFSCME union currently are deadlocked over the privatization issue.

The council will make a final decision at impasse hearings later this month.

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