Bg&e Makes Cuts For Competitive Edge

March 19, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. yesterday announced that it has slashed employment by 1,167 workers, or 12.8 percent of )) its work force, as part of a restructuring effort that has cut $51 million from the utility's expenses.

The cutback, which has been in the works since August, marks a dramatic turn for the utility monopoly, which is trying to transform itself into a leaner company to meet the newly emerging competitive power market.

"It's like a changing of an era," said BG&E spokeswoman Peggy Mulloy. "The company was always thought of like the government and you had a job for life."

The company said its work force dropped from 9,123 on Jan. 1, 1993, to 7,956 on Feb. 1, 1994 -- the cutoff date for the program. Of the reduction, 826 workers took early retirement, 225 took a voluntary severance package and 116 employees left through normal attrition.

There are also 83 other workers -- still counted as employees -- who are part of the company's Placement Opportunity Program, which assists workers in finding jobs with either BG&E or other companies. Starting on Feb. 1, these workers can stay in the program for 13 to 52 weeks, depending on their seniority. If a worker has not found a job by the end of the allotted time, he or she will be dismissed.

To blunt the effects of the downsizing, BG&E offered early retirement packages to workers 50 years or older who had worked for thecompany for 15 years or more. It also provided severance payments ranging from 15 weeks of pay for workers who had five years or less of service to 65 weeks for employees with 20 or more years of seniority. An extensive job searching program was also offered.

Even though the company remains very profitable -- with earnings of $309.9 million last year, a 17.2 percent increase -- BG&E has said it had to eliminate positions to meet future competition.

Utility analysts have said that BG&E and other power companies must become more market driven to meet the increasing threat of independent power producers and competition among existing utilities to sell bulk power.

The change in direction came with the selection of Christian H. Poindexter as chairman and chief executive officer of the company last year.

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