Leaders of a union representing clerical and technical workers at the Maryland Port Administration lambasted the agency yesterday for granting bonuses to 22 top executives to reward them for recent increases in business and profitability.
Maryland Classified Employees Association officials criticized the MPA for handing out $84,000 in bonuses to managers, while giving only a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment to the 350 other MPA employees.
Port officials, however, defended the bonuses, saying managers were primarily responsible for the recent growth because they negotiated contracts with customers.
Robert Stephens, interim executive director of the union, said the workers feel they are just as responsible for the recent improvements and are upset that they "are missing out on cash rewards and receiving nothing more for their efforts than a thank you."
"For management to deem itself solely responsible for all the port's success is an extremely elitist and insensitive attitude that only serves to hinder an effective employee-management partnership," he added.
The MCEA represents about 150 MPA workers, including port police officers, clerks and statisticians.
Linda Jordan, acting general manager of communications for the MPA, said the state legislature appropriated the bonus money because port managers finished fiscal year 1994, which ended June 30, with a $3.5 million profit, the MPA's first profit in five years.
The MPA also expects to declare a profit of about $3 million in the fiscal year that ended last month, she said.
The legislators also wanted to reward managers because the amount of cargo handled by the port in the 12 months that ended Dec. 31 was 17 percent ahead of the previous year, she said.
She said the bonus program, which was created in 1988, is similar to bonus programs in the private sector.
This is only the second year MPA managers have received a bonus, however, because the port was struggling and the MPA lost money during the early 1990s.
While it is true that rank-and-file workers received only a 2 percent inflation adjustment, she said that she expects the workers to receive step increases in November.
There is no program for bonuses for nonmanagerial workers, she said.
Although none of the bonus checks have been sent yet, Ms. Jordan said she expects to be one of the recipients.
She said she expects to receive a bonus of 8 percent of her annual salary, for a total of $6,500.
Bonuses were not awarded to recently resigned MPA Director Michael Angelos, or his temporary replacement, Thomas H. Osborne, she said.