Some city custodians and guards reportedly find jobs before layoffs

November 16, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

More than 30 percent of the 174 city custodians and security guards soon to be laid off because their positions are being privatized have found other jobs, city officials said yesterday.

Leaders of the Mayor's Office of Employment Development told a City Council subcommittee that they expect that number to rise as the cut-off dates draw closer. The guards are to be taken off the city payroll Jan. 11. The custodians have until March 1.

"For many people, it still has not hit home yet," Karen Sitnick, director of the office, said at a hearing of the Labor and Economic Development Subcommittee.

Rosalind Howard, senior program development specialist with the office, said that 46 of the 138 Department of Public Works custodians have found jobs -- mostly in city agencies at about the same salaries. Their average new wage is $21,270. Most of those -- 31 -- have been hired as DPW laborers. Twenty are enrolled in a job training or GED class, and 22 plan to retire, she said.

Howard said 13 of the 36 DPW security guards have found work paying an average salary of $20,750. Four are enrolled in training and six are scheduled to retire.

Mayor Martin O'Malley had wanted the employees' jobs privatized during the summer so that the city could save as much as $4 million for this fiscal year, which began July 1. But in budget negotiations in June, City Council members insisted on giving the workers time to seek other jobs, arguing that the targeted employees were among the lowest-paid in the city.

Now, officials are bracing for the possibility of more layoffs because of a projected $17.1 million shortfall.

The mayor's employment office has four career centers where workers can receive help getting their GED high school equivalency certificate, learning computer skills or developing a resume.

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