Government workers complain of racism

March 20, 1994|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,Contributing Writer

COLLEGE PARK — *TC COLLEGE PARK -- Members of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus heard more complaints of racism yesterday from dozens of state government workers who testified at a hearing at the University of Maryland here.

The workers took part in the second caucus hearing on racism in state government.

Such was the nature of the complaints from University of Maryland workers that the senator running the hearing said outside of the room that the caucus should consider creative ways of applying pressure to stop racist activity.

Sen. Decatur W. Trotter, a Prince George's Democrat, said that in the case of the University of Maryland, he was "planning to make a recommendation to the caucus that we discourage black athletes from attending the university until its policy of oppression toward black workers ends."

At least one speaker suggested withholding money from the university until concerns over racism are addressed, but Mr. Trotter said other methods "will be more effective."

"It would be difficult for 32 caucus members out of over 180

legislators to withhold funds. [Governor William Donald Schaefer] puts money where he wants," he said.

Almost all of the state workers who testified were African-Americans, many of them employees of the University of Maryland. Nearly 100state employees attended the hearing.

"We intend to go forward in a protracted struggle to eliminate or minimize the effects of racism in state government," Del. Clarence Davis, a Baltimore Democrat, told the gathering.

Employees of various departments on the UM campus, the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, the office of public defenders, the Baltimore City Department of Social Services and other departments spoke of denied promotions, unwarranted suspensions and reprimands, denied pay raises and racist remarks.

George Adams, an employee in the university's computer science center for three years, said white supervisors are constantly telling him to "stay in his place." He said he received a racist computer message last year from a white co-worker.

"Stop providing funds for the growth of racism here on campus," Mr. Adams told members of the caucus.

Jeff Bigelow, a representative of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, echoed Mr. Adams' request.

"We want to see royal penalties instituted and funding withheld until this university has illustrated a commitment to equal opportunity employment," Mr. Bigelow testified.

The first caucus hearing was conducted Feb. 24 in Annapolis. Two more are scheduled for Baltimore and the Eastern Shore, with a fifth to be conducted at an undetermined site.

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