Child care center construction nearsA year after some of...

WORKPLACE & CAREERS

September 17, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Child care center construction nears

A year after some of the nation's biggest employers launched a coalition to improve child care services for their workers, the sole Maryland-based project is still -- literally -- on the drawing board.

But, says Jackie Townes, of the Montgomery County Division of Children, Youth and Families, construction may begin soon on a child care center at the Shady Grove Metro station. The center is scheduled to start taking children next fall.

The county has raised all but $250,000 of the $1.5 million it needs to build a facility designed to serve commuting parents, she said.

The money has come from state and county grants, as well as the year-old American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care, which has $26 million in funding.

Groundbreaking was delayed because of a dispute over ownership of the parcel, she said. But the courts have settled the claim. Now, the county is waiting for the results of an environmental study of the site, Ms. Townes said.

Nearly half of the 106 slots are being reserved for employees of the corporate coalition that is helping to raise money and organize the project -- including IBM, Martin Marietta Corp. and the Vitro Corp.

The rest of the slots will likely be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, she said. The center will charge market rates.

"I am getting calls asking 'When can I sign up my kid?' " from mothers eager to save themselves side trips to inconvenient day care centers, Ms. Townes said.

But she isn't taking names.

The county will hire a nonprofit agency to run the center, and Ms. Townes figures that is who should handle the rush of applicants.

OPEIU local pushes Teamsters for pact

A Maryland-based union local is taking on the Teamsters in what is turning into a potentially embarrassing interunion squabble.

Local 2 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which is based in Silver Spring, will hold a rally outside the Teamsters' Washington headquarters today.

The cause: The approximately 200 nonunion workers at thTeamster headquarters voted last year voted to join the OPEIU, and now the OPEIU wants the Teamsters to agree to a contract.

Mike Cowan, staff representative for the OPEIU, said the newly organized workers and their Teamster bosses have been negotiating for months over the workers' demands for job security and maintenance of benefits.

While most of the workers were hired by the old guard who gave the Teamsters its reputation as the most corrupt union in the nation, Mr. Cowan said his new members were not the problem.

"Job security is the No. 1 issue for most working Americans," he said.

But Teamster President Ron Carey, elected on promises to cut costs and clean up corruption, hasn't met their demands.

Gaye Williams, spokeswoman for the Teamsters, said Mr. Carey and the reform team aren't fighting the unionization of the headquarters employees.

But the Teamsters are having financial difficulties. And Mr. Carey is focused on trying to clean up arbitrary policies of the past -- such as paying some clerks twice as much as others.

Work force top asset,says Calvert Group

The Calvert Group Ltd., a Bethesda-based investment house, has a ready explanation why it made the Working Mother magazine list of the top 100 companies for parents for the first time this year.

In a telephone interview from her home, where she was working so that she could keep an eye on her 7- and 11-year-old children, Evelyne Steward, Calvert's vice president for human resources, said the company won the honor because "we treat our work force as our most valuable asset."

The company offers its employees:

* Flexible work hours.

* Unlimited sick leave, which can be used for care of a sick child or relative.

* A $3,000 contribution toward adoption costs.

* A $500 new-baby account in one of the company's funds to start a savings account for college or other needs.

* Liberal parental leave.

All of the praise -- including similar plaudits from Good Housekeeping and Inc. magazines -- is making her job a little tougher, though, said Ms. Steward.

"We get a lot of resumes. And when we advertise an opening, we are just inundated. It is very hard to screen through" all of the applicants, she said.

But there is an upside. The company can choose among the very best applicants. "We want to be an employer of choice," said Ms. Steward.

Maryland again cuts jobless benefits' span

The length of time jobless Marylanders may collect unemployment benefits has been cut again, the Department of Economic and Employment Development has announced.

Because the state unemployment rate slipped to 6.6 percent in July, the state is no longer considered to be severely economically distressed by the federal government. So the unemployment benefits have been cut by 10 weeks to 36 weeks.

The benefits have been bouncing up and down in recent months because of volatility in the state and national unemployment rates.

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