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Union says company broke notification lawIn one...


Union says company broke notification law

In one of the first Maryland legal actions involving the year-old Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, a local union has sued a company for failing to give workers the 60-day plant closure notice that the law requires.

Forty Maryland members of the United Paperworkers International Union filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore earlier this month asking MacMillan Bloedel Containers pay them each 25 days' pay because the company only gave them 35 days' notice that it was selling its Odenton plant.

The company announced Feb. 26 that it would sell its 150-worker packaging plant to Atlas Container Corp. by April 2.

Patty Parsons, attorney for UPIU Local 1925, said she believes the company owes each worker about $1,500, for a total of $60,000.

John Wymer III, lawyer for the American subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacMillan Bloedel Inc., said this week that he hasn't filed a response to the suit, but that the company paid the extra 25 days' wages to the 110 workers who lost their jobs when the plant was sold.

MacMillan didn't pay the extra wages to the 40 plaintiffs -- who were rehired by Atlas -- because they didn't lose any wages, he said.

"We gave the notice, and we paid those employees who were not hired," he said. "We complied with the law."

Mr. Wymer says the company couldn't give the law's required 60-day notice because both companies wanted to close the deal much sooner.

Earlier this year, the Government Accounting Office reported that in two-thirds of all major plant closures last year, employers failed to provide the 60-day notice required by the act.

But local economic development officials say most Maryland employers have obeyed the law.

In fact, the Department of Economic and Employment Development often gets notices from small companies, which aren't covered by the law, says assistant secretary Charles Middlebrooks III.

Employer is honored for taking on interns

As hard times and layoffs reduce many companies' interest in offering college students a look at the world of work, one local employer has won honors for bucking the trend and taking on additional student interns.

Litofsky, Brager & O'Brien P.A., a physical therapy practice with nine offices around Baltimore, including one in Dundalk, won "employer of the year" plaudits from Dundalk Community College for taking on about 10 student interns this year.

Julie O'Brien, one of the practice's partners, plans to take even more interns next year.

The freshmen and sophomores who get course credit, not pay, work as receptionists in her offices to learn about life as a physical therapist, she said.

Some work only four or five hours a week. And some dropped out of the program after realizing they weren't interested in the field, she says.

Others stay at the office up to 15 hours a week to learn as much as possible, she said.

Keeping track of students' hours and performance means extra paperwork and grading headaches for administrators.

And those who supervise the students are slowed down by the training they give. "We have had to deal with problem students," Ms. O'Brien said.

But the interns lighten the clerical workload and provide a pool of potential workers for the growing practice.

And even some hassles have a silver lining, she says.

"They ask all kinds of questions. It keeps our therapists on their toes" and interested in their jobs, too, she said.

Working mothers don't neglect kids, study says

Women who work outside the home don't spend less quality time with their children, a study has found.

A study by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Utah found that women spend, on average, 10,500 hours of "quality time" with their children in their first 18 years of life -- whether the mothers work in or out of the home.

"Quality time" was defined as time spent interacting with children by, for example, reading to them or bathing them.

The study of married mothers of two children from the 1920s to dTC the present found that homemakers didn't spend as much "quality time" with their children as previously thought.

Much of the homemakers' time was spent doing housework -- keeping an eye on children but not really interacting with them.

One big difference between full-time homemakers and employed mothers was found, however:

Employed women tended to spend less time with younger children, and more time with those over the age of 3. Full-time homemakers did the reverse.

More of the employed sending out resumes

Can economic hope be measured with resumes?

Robert Half International, a New York-based headhunter, reports 25 percent jump in the number of resumes it has received this year from employed people looking for better jobs.

Max Messmer, chairman of the company, said he thinks applicants are heartened by signs of an economic recovery and hope that other companies will soon be hiring.

Many, he said, are hoping to escape heavier workloads at companies that have had layoffs.

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