Women, minorities get new attention


WASHINGTON -- Women and minorities who face artificial barriers to career advancement may benefit from a new commission that has been created to study the effect of so-called glass ceilings in both the public and private sectors.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin last month created the Glass Ceiling Commission, which will study workplace prejudices based on gender and race that prevent some workers from attaining management positions.

The commission is to report on its findings by next February. The panel is to recommend ways that federal agencies can fill vacant management positions and ensure that women and minorities have opportunities to hone their decision-making skills, and that all employees are fairly compensated.

The panel also will recommend ways that federal agencies can enforce compliance with equal employment opportunity laws. These methods could include litigation, investigations, compliance reviews, conciliation, administrative regulations, policy guidance, training and public education.

Service Recognition:

Civil servants who perform community service will be honored with a special week under legislation pending in Congress.

Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland has introduced a Senate resolution that would designate May 4-10 Public Service Recognition Week to honor Americans who serve their communities. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., is one of 11 co-sponsors of the measure.

A similar House measure has 165 co-sponsors, including seven of Maryland's eight-member delegation: Helen Delich Bentley, R-2nd; Beverly B. Byron, D-6th; Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd; Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th; Tom McMillen, D-4th; Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, and Constance A. Morella, R-8th.

Easing downsizing:

The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) has come up with a plan to ease the strain of cuts in military personnel.

The Department of Defense has adopted "a policy to achieve a certain personnel level, but it does nothing to control who leaves, how much institutional knowledge is lost, or whether those who remain will enable the country to achieve national security goals," says NFFE President Sheila Velazco.

Ms. Velazco presented the union's plan last month to the House Armed Services subcommittee on readiness.

NFFE represents about 150,000 federal workers, about half of XTC whom are employed by DOD.

The plan includes three approaches: financial incentives to encourage retirement-age workers to retire, training and placement programs and conversion of military installations to commercial uses.

The incentives to spur retirements include age or service credits that would be applied toward retirement eligibility; purchasing service credits with overtime, unused sick leave and other forms of leave; and extending Federal Employee Health Benefits for one year to those who lose their jobs because of downsizing.

To minimize public assistance grants and joblessness, NFFE proposes that the federal Priority Placement Program be expanded so that employees can seek jobs in all federal agencies.

Workers would be allowed to use the placement program as soon as their installation is targeted for closure, rather than waiting for the official 60-day notice of layoffs.

The plan calls for training programs at every installation. Services would include career planning and tips on job hunting, interviewing and writing resumes.

In converting military installations to commercial uses, NFFE advocates expanding the types of goods that military facilities are allowed to produce for sale to the private sector; tax incentives or rebates for businesses that cooperate with the military in conversion efforts; and encouraging DOD facilities to research and develop commercial products.

NFFE spokesman Red Evans says his organization does not expect all of these suggestions to be implemented, but to serve as a basis for approaching the problems of downsizing.

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