BGE is cutting 190 workers, most via early retirements

260 eligible to retire in voluntary program

Utilities

January 15, 2000|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said yesterday that it plans to cut 190 jobs, primarily through a volunteer early retirement program, possibly as early as June 1.

The utility also said it will hire 36 trainees for work on overhead electric lines, increasing to 436 the number of skilled overhead personnel.

The job cuts will occur in BGE's utility operations group, which includes gas and electric delivery operations, customer care, information systems and marketing and general services. The group has about 3,800 of BGE's 6,400 workers.

"We've worked hard to cushion the possible negative effect that the changing business environment may have on employees," Frank O. Heintz, BGE executive vice president for utility operations group, said in a written statement yesterday.

About 260 workers are eligible for the voluntary retirement program, which is open only to those employees who are 55 years old with 10 or more years of service as of May 31, and who are in positions that are to be cut.

If BGE does not hit its reduction target of 190 workers, it will then seek to retrain eligible workers for other jobs within the company. If necessary, the company will give severance packages to eligible workers.

"We anticipate that voluntary retirements, retraining and the rotation of employees into other job assignments will achieve our staffing requirements," Heintz said.

The company said during the summer that it was considering cutting 250 to 350 jobs. At the time, BGE also said it would determine if further job cuts would be necessary in 2001 and 2002.

Richard Crawshaw, a representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said he will reserve his opinion on overall job cuts until the union sees the "true numbers."

"If the early retirement program is sufficient and it salvages jobs, than it's great," he said. "For every job saved, we feel fantastic. That has been our position in this whole thing. Job losses would be detrimental to employees, their families and, definitely, customers, who would be affected by service reliability."

The IBEW, which has lost several elections at BGE, started another organizing campaign in May. Another election may be held in the spring to determine if the workers want the union to represent them, Crawshaw said.

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