Unions are at odds with archdioceseA dispute is simmering...


June 04, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Unions are at odds with archdiocese

A dispute is simmering between the Baltimore Archdiocese and local unions.

In February, Baltimore Archbishop William H. Keeler rejected a union request that the Catholic church's big construction jobs go to unionized contractors.

Instead, he drafted guidelines requiring all contractors bidding for jobs costing $300,000 or more to provide "just" benefits and pay.

Now, William P. Kaczorowski, president of the Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council, says his group of 19 AFL-CIO trade unions is monitoring contracts to make sure companies live up to the guidelines.

Noting that church officials have long insisted that workers be treated with dignity, Mr. Kaczorowski says the new policy is vague and won't guarantee that workers on church projects get a living wage and health care.

The archbishop's decision, he charges, was a result of politics. The archbishop probably "didn't want to offend anyone," including important nonunion contractors who are donors, he says.

Other archdioceses, such as Washington's, have a union-only rule, he notes. In Washington, the rule covers projects that cost $500,000 or more.

Rob Rehg, spokesman for the archbishop, says the rejection of the union request didn't have anything to do with pleasing big donors, but resulted from concerns for economy and fairness.

The archdiocese didn't want to limit bidding to unionized companies because that would cut out 80 percent of Maryland contractors, he says. Reduced competition could mean higher costs for the church, he says, and the archbishop didn't want to force workers to join a union to enable their companies to get church jobs.

Instead, since February, the church has required contractors to disclose details of their work-force makeup, safety programs, pay and benefits.

Those guidelines have been a small revelation, Mr. Rehg says. No contract has been awarded under the new rules, but initial results show that, on average, one-quarter of the contractors interested in church jobs don't provide benefits. In some areas, the percentage was as high as 40 percent, he said.

Layoff announcements fell 55% in May

The good news: Layoff announcements dropped 55 percent from April to May.

But the latest Challenger Employment Report isn't all rosy. Layoff announcements this year are running higher than last year: 2,271 workers have been laid off per business day this year, up from 1,500 in 1992.

And the New York outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. found that a surprising number of the layoffs came from once-strong economic sectors, such as health care.

Although the aerospace industry led with the most layoffs announced in May -- 1,638 -- drug-makers came in second. And Challenger counted more than 600 workers laid off last month by hospitals or other health care operations.

Making things add up for female accountants

As a young accountant in the Baltimore office of Deloitte & Touche, Viki Morris ground out the 70-hour weeks, worked her way up to audit manager and dreamed of being the office's first female partner.

Then she had a baby.

Suddenly, she realized why she'd seen other good female accountants quit when confronted by demands for long hours at work and at home.

"Part-time and flex-time work [which might make it easier for parents to balance home and work life] have not been offered to people in Baltimore," she said.

That's about to change.

Partners at the nation's third-largest accounting firm have realized that the traditionally male industry must adapt now that most new hires are women.

There are no women among the six local partners, says Thomas R. Kelley, the partner in charge of Deloitte's local tax practice. That's not unusual -- only 5 percent of all Big 6 partners are women -- but it is a problem.

Because of the pressures of accounting, and the fear that there is no future for them at the firm, many more female accountants quit than do men. And that drain of talent could damage the firm.

So Deloitte has started a nationwide program to retain and promote women.

In July, all of the local partners and managers will attend a "sensitivity training" program. And Deloitte will mull reforms to the traditional career ladder. It's considering allowing some accountants to work at home, or to work three-day weeks in a stretched-out version of the 11-year partnership track.

The firm also will aggressively seek female accountants to promote -- even if that causes some resentment among men.

Ms. Morris is excited but a bit skeptical. She hopes that the new initiative addresses everyone's work-family conflicts. "A man who working 80 hours a week isn't seeing his children either."

And she worries that the economic pressures on accounting firms still won't allow her to have both career and family. "If a full-time schedule is 70 hours and I work part time, is that 40 hours?"

If faster is better for resume, fax it

Heard about a job opening but worried someone will beat you to the application? Fax that resume to beat the competition!

More than three out of four human resource managers think it's OK to fax resumes, says a survey of big companies by Officeteam, a California-based agency that provides temporary workers.

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