Anne Arundel workers blue over pink slips

April 17, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

It was "Black Friday" for hundreds of Anne Arundel County workers who got pink slips yesterday as part of County Executive Robert R. Neall's plan to shrink county government.

Department heads distributed 372 letters to contractual employees, workers whose positions will be cut and those in danger of being bumped from a job by someone with more seniority.

Mr. Neall announced Wednesday that he will cut 440 positions, including 120 vacant slots, effective June 30 as part of a government reorganization plan to save $5 million. The recession, cuts in state aid and a voter-approved property tax cap have forced the executive to trim government and rely more on outside contractors, Mr. Neall said.

But the warning did little to placate workers, many of whom had booed and taunted the executive when he met with them earlier in the week.

"Everyone's calling it Black Friday," said Jim Bestpitch, a collection system operator in the Department of Public Works who was spared his job.

Middle management took the biggest hits, with 70 percent of the cuts. The county has done away with jobs that average $40,000 to $45,000 a year.

The 274 contractual jobs that will end June 30 include van drivers and nutrition center aides for the Department of Aging. Mr. Neall plans to hire a private firm for those services. The Department of Planning and Zoning lost 38 contract workers in a variety of technical or support positions and the county Health Department lost 36.

Of civil service employees, 98 received letters -- some because their positions have been cut, others because they could be bumped from their jobs.

Abolished jobs fell across departmental lines, with the highest concentrations in Utilities and Central Services. Seven management assistants, all seven community services specialists, engineers, accountants and automotive service workers were laid off.

"No one department was eliminated or hit any harder in terms of the process," said personnel officer Donald Tynes.

No police officers, firefighters or school employees workers will be laid off.

Mr. Neall will add 130 positions for jobs now done by contract workers. The county will give displaced salaried workers first priority in filling those and offer out placement services next week, Mr. Tynes said.

Many workers remained tight-lipped yesterday, huddling to whisper among themselves and shying away from speaking publicly about the cuts.

"Everyone's been down in the dumps around here. It's been blue," said Jackie Parker, 22, a contractual receptionist who learned she would be out of a job.

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