NAACP orders furloughs

September 30, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer

Struggling to cut costs in the face of a $3.5 million deficit, the NAACP has ordered some employees at its Baltimore headquarters to take two weeks off without pay between now and the end of the year.

NAACP sources said all employees who earn more than $22,000 a year would be furloughed. In addition, they said, some workers in the organization would be laid off.

Earl T. Shinhoster, the NAACP's interim senior administrator, wouldn't release details yesterday. He said he first wanted to brief all employees on the plans.

"We are in the midst of developing an austerity program," he said. "We have not completed the process, and it would not be fair to employees in this instance to talk about any aspect of it."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's financial crisis developed during the 16-month tenure of Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., who was fired Aug. 20.

The NAACP board voted 53-5 to dismiss Dr. Chavis after learning that he had made a secret deal to pay a former assistant up to $332,400 to settle a threatened sexual-harassment claim.

Since then, an interim management team led by Mr. Shinhoster has worked to restore the civil rights group's credibility, increase membership and raise funds.

An audit of NAACP finances found serious problems, sources said, including cartons of unpaid bills in executive offices. The NAACP has so far met payrolls.

Many traditional donors to the organization have apparently taken a wait-and-see attitude, including the Ford Foundation, which has withheld disbursement of a $250,000 grant.

Mr. Shinhoster said he would have "something very positive to say very soon" about the Ford funds.

Joseph E. Madison, a board member, said he believed "people are still holding back on the basis of two things: whether or not the current board leadership is going to be in place, and who the next executive director is going to be." He said he saw "no need to rush" in replacing Dr. Chavis.

The NAACP board has not formally begun the search for a new executive director. Board Chairman William F. Gibson will be up for re-election in February, if he decides to run.

The end of the Chavis era is being played out in District of Columbia Superior Court. Mary E. Stansel, the former Chavis aide, has sued Dr. Chavis and the NAACP for $250,000 that she says is owed to her. Dr. Chavis has sued to block the NAACP from firing him. And the civil rights group has sued Dr. Chavis for $82,400 already paid to Ms. Stansel and argued that it should not be held liable for the $250,000 that Ms. Stansel is seeking.

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