Coordinator named for Labor StudiesDundalk Community College...


Coordinator named for Labor Studies

Dundalk Community College has appointed a new coordinator for its Labor Studies Program -- the only community college labor program in Maryland.

Lynne Mingarelli says she wants to attract more students by offering more noncredit classes, by doing more to serve office workers and by addressing technological changes to workplaces.

"I feel we are at a turning point" in the history of the American worker, she said in an interview early this week.

When the nation began, agriculture was the biggest employer. But as technological changes allowed farmers to produce more food with fewer people, surplus workers migrated into industry.

Then, as technological improvements allowed factories to produce more steel and T-shirts with fewer people, surplus workers migrated into service or government jobs.

Now those sectors are laying off workers too, she notes.

What do workers have now as an alternative? she asks.

"You're not going to stop" technological change, she said. So workers have to learn more about it and participate in it.

Ms. Mingarelli, a native of upstate New York who lives in Montgomery County with her husband and two children, also hopes to offer more courses for women.

A former staffer of the Maryland Federation of Teachers, Ms. Mingarelli has taught at Dundalk and at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Silver Spring.

She earned a bachelor's degree in American history from the State University of New York at Oneonta, and a master's in labor studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Oles Envelope settles sexual-bias charges

Oles Envelope Corp. has agreed to pay at least 50 female employees a total of $220,000 to settle federal charges that the company improperly channeled women into lower-paying jobs.

The company conceded that only men were in $14-an-hour "adjuster" jobs, in which workers adjusted envelope-making machines. Meanwhile, women filled most of the $9-an-hour "inspector/operator" jobs, in which workers checked the envelopes and machines.

But Oles officials say the company did nothing wrong.

The women did not ask to be promoted to the higher-paying jobs and had not complained about the system, says company attorney Larry M. Wolf.

Oles says it settled the charges because it didn't want to hassle with continuing litigation.

The 81-year-old company -- supplier to customers from Publishers' Clearinghouse to the IRS -- faced the charges after undergoing a random review by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compli ance Programs.

Jacqueline Bell, director of the office's Baltimore district, says she was surprised to find such sex-segregation at a large Baltimore company in this day and age.

Oles has about 220 employees and annual sales of more than $20 million.

The women hadn't applied for the men's jobs because, often, they didn't realize the men got paid more, Ms. Bell says.

"And they were easily intimidated by the men," she says.

As a part of the settlement, Oles agreed to inform all current and prospective female employees about all the job opportunities within the company, Ms. Bell says.

Unemployment insurance cost soars

The amount that Maryland employers pay for unemployment insurance has soared over the last two years.

Companies will pay an average of $302.50 per employee for unemployment insurance this year -- nearly double the amount they paid in 1991, says Ronald Adler, president of Potomac-based Laurdan Associates.

The biggest jump came in the heart of the 1990-1991 recession. Maryland's rates this year were only up 5.4 percent from 1992.

But that means Maryland's unemployment costs still are rising faster than the national average -- which increased 3.4 percent to $210 per employee this year.

And there are likely to be further cost pressures on Maryland's unemployment system next year, he says.

To keep employers' costs down, Maryland hasn't raised the amount it will pay to the jobless since 1990 -- which means the unemployed are losing buying power to inflation.

But the payout cap -- $223 a week -- is likely to be raised next year, he predicts.

There is some solace for local employers, Mr. Adler says. Maryland's cost increases should moderate as other states "catch up," he predicts.

.' "We got worse first," he said.

1980 recession called worse than 1990's

The 1990-1991 recession, though widely described as the worst since the Great Depression, wasn't as bad as the 1980-1981 recession, according to one statistic compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Of all Americans laid off for economic reasons between 1987 and 1992, 64.9 percent had found jobs again by 1992, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found.

And while that means one-third of all displaced workers still hadn't found a job, that's an improvement over the 1980-81 recession.

The BLS says that a survey of displaced workers from 1979 through 1983 found that only 60.1 percent had found jobs by 1983.

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