City union representatives await details on recommended dismissal of 8 workers Public Works officials refuse to discuss specifics

May 08, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

City officials remained tight-lipped yesterday about the recommended dismissal of eight public works employees and allegations that city materials were missing.

Officials of the Water and Wastewater Division of Local 44 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said yesterday that they are awaiting details regarding the recommendations to fire the workers, some of whom were supervisors.

"We want the charges," said Kelis Stewart, Local 44 labor representative for two of the removed workers.

City officials announced Tuesday that they were recommending dismissal of the employees, but refused to discuss the matter.

Federal, state and city police and prosecutors said yesterday that they haven't been contacted about any alleged thefts on city property.

Stewart said no explanations have been offered to anyone.

"All we have is, 'You are off indefinitely,' " Stewart said.

Word of the possible firings began circulating last week after Public Works administrators visited the city's Park Terminal work yard at 2231 N. Fulton Ave. The workers were asked to leave the premises.

Employees at the yard said the visit followed allegations that materials, including city equipment, bricks and wood, were missing.

The matter has been turned over to the city's Law Department.

Public Works Director George G. Balog and other city officials would not comment on the matter.

"The public will be informed as we find out information," said Alonza Williams, a spokesman for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Stewart said union officials were called to represent the workers, one of whom will be allowed to retire.

The recommendations to fire the workers will be reviewed by a hearing officer hired by the city, but are expected to be appealed to the Civil Service Commission, the union said yesterday.

The employees were told they would be terminated for "malfeasance in office," Stewart said.

The union is working on defending the employees, he said.

"The people I represent do not make decisions, we follow orders," Stewart said.

Public Works is the city's largest department, employing 6,000 workers who carry out 10 functions ranging from trash removal to parking enforcement.

The department has an annual budget that exceeds $500 million.

Pub Date: 5/08/98

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