Public hearing Dec. 9 on workplace smokingThe state's...


November 12, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Public hearing Dec. 9 on workplace smoking

The state's first public hearing on the proposed workplace smoking ban will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 9 in the Con-Met Room of the Crownsville Hospital Center in Crownsville.

A second public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 16 at Winchester Hall in Frederick.

Maryland's Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board is expected to vote on the proposal in January.

Last month, after three Baltimore school workers died in an explosion sparked by a match lighted for a cigar, William A. Fogle Jr., the state's secretary of licensing and regulation, announced that he wanted to ban all smoking in Maryland's workplaces.

But within days, Mr. Fogle backed away from his plan to impose on an emergency basis what would have been the toughest anti-smoking rules in the nation.

Instead, he decided to send the regulations through the slower -- and possibly politically safer -- system of public hearings.

And he has said he is willing to consider changes to his proposal, which would require all employers to "ensure that an employee, while in the place of employment, does not smoke."

Howard E. Marshall, chairman of the board that will be holding the hearings, said he was eager to take the issue to the public.

The board has received -- and taken no action on -- petitions asking for anti-smoking rules for more than 10 years.

But, now, because of the growing evidence of the harm of secondary smoke, there is "great momentum" building for some kind of regulation, Mr. Marshall said.

Indeed, although the state's tobacco lobbyist has vowed to fight the proposal, many businesspeople are saying that the law won't bother them because they already ban smoking in the workplace.

Surveys of local employers have found that about three-quarters of all large companies already regulate smoking.

Mr. Marshall insists, however, that the state doesn't want to "tell people who like to smoke whether or not they can or cannot smoke."

"Smokers' rights will be protected," he said.

Maryland part-timers hold up UPS contract

Although the Teamsters have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with United Parcel Service Inc., some concerns about the package delivery company's use of part-timers in Maryland is holding up implementation of the new four-year contract.

The 18,000 UPS employees in the mid-Atlantic region approved the national wage pact but rejected an accompanying local contract that would have allowed UPS to use part-timers when full-time jobs could be created.

The mid-Atlantic was one of five regions that rejected a local pact. The national contract can't be implemented until all 54 regions sign their local agreements, said UPS spokesman Robert Kenney.

Mr. Kenney said UPS doesn't know why the five regions rejected their local contracts, but hopes to settle the disputes soon.

"We are very optimistic that all the local issues will be cleared up. Both sides want it to happen," he said.

Keith Biddle, a shop steward at UPS' Dundalk operation, said the approximately 4,000 Maryland drivers liked a lot of UPS' local proposal -- which covers things like bumping rights and job protection.

But they didn't like the company's plan to continue working them 1 1/2 hours of overtime a day for most of the year, and hiring temporary workers for as much as seven months of each year, instead of creating permanent, full-time jobs.

Many people take part-time, $8-an-hour loading jobs with UPS in the hopes of working their way up to full-time jobs, which pay about $18 an hour, he said.

"These younger guys work four, five, six years to become full time, but there is virtually no way for them to go full time" because the company won't create jobs even when the work is there, he said.

"If you've got 10 guys working 10 hours a day, there is an extra route in there."

Although most of the drivers like working extra hours during the Christmas rush, they complain that the company demands overtime during most of the summer too.

"It gets kind of old after a while," Mr. Biddle said.

Older Britons endure harder job searches

Older job seekers in Britain suffer from hiring discrimination, Manpower, Inc. reports.

The temporary services agency says a survey of help wanted ads in Britain found that one-quarter specified that people over the age of 45 need not apply.

Ads to warn against anti-immigrant bias

The state is launching an advertising campaign to remind employers it is illegal to discriminate against immigrants in hiring.

Maryland got a $99,000 grant to commission public service ads explaining the law against employment discrimination. It is relying on media donations of air time and newspaper space.

The Maryland Office of New Americans launched the program because some employers, afraid of being fined for hiring illegal aliens, are choosing not to hire immigrants at all.

Since the 1986 immigration law reform, the Department of Justice has reached settlements with 15 Maryland employers, including the University of Maryland, on charges they violated little-known laws that ban employment discrimination against people who look like they might be undocumented workers.

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