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A full family leave is too costly...


A full family leave is too costly for many

The family leave law that takes effect this summer is a great idea, many workers and managers say. But few are likely to take full advantage of the offer of a 12-week unpaid leave of absence for a family emergency.

Cindy Spearman, employment recruiter for the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore hotel, likes the new law because it gives workers like her an opportunity to take some time off during crises. "Life is not all rosy," she said.

But she probably won't take full advantage of the law because she can't afford to go three months without a paycheck.

And she doubts many of the 240 employees at the downtown Baltimore hotel will ask for anything but a very short leave.

"We have a lot of single mothers, single parents with children. The rent and everything else won't wait."

The law, she said, "is good for people making $200,000 a year."

Ms. Spearman's view is not uncommon. A survey by the Gallup Organization found that about seven out of 10 workers said they couldn't afford to go three months without a paycheck.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which takes effect Aug. 5, requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to any employee who has a family emergency or birth.

Number of families with wage earners rises

America's families are starting to pull out of the economic doldrums.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of families with wage earners rose in the first quarter of 1993.

The number of families with at least one worker grew by 576,000 in the first quarter of 1993 compared with a year ago. But 10 percent of all families, or 6.7 million, still have at least one member who is looking for work.

Fired air controllers skeptical over late relief

The 12-year saga of members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, who were fired for striking, may be coming to an end. And that prospect is being greeted with relief, as well as skepticism, by local former members of the defunct union.

For Carl A. Yowell, a controller fired for picketing Baltimore-Washington International Airport in 1981, President Clinton's recent announcement that he would sign an order allowing the nation's airports to rehire fired PATCO members is long-overdue justice.

And little else.

Although he thinks the strike was illegal, Mr. Yowell notes that he was never prosecuted. And a 12-year ban from a profession is more than enough punishment for the 11,000 PATCO members, he says.

Mr. Yowell says he won't be going back, though, because he is happy at his new job -- controlling weather satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He says the pay is good, and "there is nowhere near the stress level. You can't cause satellites to collide, and nobody gets killed."

Besides, he says, airline controlling is "a young man's job."

The 48-year-old Baltimorean says bringing him back to the control tower at BWI would be like "bringing Brooks Robinson back to play third base. He could do it, but he'd be no Leo Gomez."

But other fired BWI controllers say they'd love to have their old jobs back.

One former member says he and others are all "waiting to see if the hiring is real, not just symbolic." He refused to be identified because he didn't want his boss to know that he might leave.

Although their union support cost PATCO members their careers -- and in many cases their marriages -- Mr. Yowell and the other controller say they still support the concept of unions.

"There is a time and a place for unions. . . . And I might join one again," said the controller who would not be identified. "But I feel I've paid my union dues for life. I paid all those dues, and all I got was canned."

Fewer in Maryland get income tax refunds

Thousands of Marylanders got surprises when they filed income tax returns last month.

Last year's $172-per-person average cut in annual federal withholding sapped refunds, and may be responsible for a decline in the number of them issued by the IRS this year.

The tax agency says it mailed out 1,161,676 Maryland refunds as of May 5 this year, down about 1 percent from last year.

And the Internal Revenue Service warns that the reduced withholding will continue.

IRS spokesman Dom LaPonzina says workers who want to increase the amount withheld from their paychecks to pay their income tax bills can file a new W-4 form with their employer.

Service industries best for part-timer benefits

Millions of people who work part time would prefer full-time jobs so that they could get health and pension benefits. But a new survey shows they may do as well by shifting industries.

Nearly 60 percent of all part-timers in the service industry get some benefits, according to a survey by William M. Mercer Inc.

But less than one-fourth of all manufacturing part-timers get benefits, the New York-based consulting company found.

The survey also held out little hope for those hoping to persuade their employers to award benefits, since most of those interviewed had no plans of offering benefits to part-timers.

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