NAACP extends furloughs 2 weeks

November 11, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer

Employees at the debt-burdened NAACP have been furloughed for two more weeks without pay, union officials said yesterday.

The furloughs affect 88 staff members, who complete a previous two-week furlough today. They last were paid Oct. 28. Even if they are called back to work after Thanksgiving, their next payday would be Dec. 9.

A memo to the staff from the NAACP's interim administration said the move "has been regrettably instituted to permit the association to reduce expenditures while it continues to develop a plan to eliminate the association's financial deficit."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has a deficit of nearly $4 million. Accountants from Price Waterhouse and lawyers from the Washington firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering are helping administrators at the NAACP's Baltimore headquarters to craft a recovery plan to control costs, raise funds and pay creditors.

Another 29 employees, who are paid from earmarked grants, remain on the job, mostly at NAACP Community Development Resource Centers in the Southeast.

Most NAACP workers have now been forced to take a total of five weeks without pay since Oct. 3.

Sandra Almond, president of Local 2202N of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 40 NAACP employees, said employees were not guaranteed that they would be back on the job Nov. 28.

NAACP administrators did not return phone calls yesterday.

Earl T. Shinhoster, interim senior administrator, told the Baltimore NAACP's Unity Banquet Wednesday night that the organization was "emerging out of the worst crisis in our 85-year history. None has been as public, as open, as raw as our present circumstances."

Mr. Shinhoster, who has also been on furlough, told the audience of about 500 that when he accepted the interim post, he "had no idea the terms and conditions of employment would include no pay at all -- or even telling others they would get no pay."

When a furlough was announced two weeks ago, more than 30 staff members agreed to volunteer part-time at NAACP headquarters. But employees said yesterday that the volunteer spirit was starting to dissipate, and some staff members planned to look for other jobs.

"Since employees volunteered and some work was able to continue, maybe the stoppage wasn't really felt," said one employee, who asked not to be named.

The NAACP has been under an interim administration since Aug. 20, when the NAACP board fired then-Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. Dr. Chavis had secretly agreed to pay Mary E. Stansel, a former aide, up to $332,400 to avert a threatened sexual harassment suit.

The upheaval shook public confidence in the NAACP, already $3 million in debt by midyear. The Ford Foundation, a prime backer, has held up disbursement of a two-year, $500,000 grant because of concerns about NAACP financial management.

Just as the organization appeared to have hit bottom, syndicated columnist Carl T. Rowan published allegations last month that board Chairman William F. Gibson, a volunteer, had spent nearly $500,000 in NAACP funds since 1986 and improperly accepted reimbursement for expenses already charged to NAACP credit cards. Dr. Gibson denies doing anything wrong.

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