Prince George's County public employes yesterday began a work-by-the-book job action to protest proposed budget cuts. Apart from a sprinkling of cancellations of camping and other school activities, however, the job action had little noticeable effect on county services.
The protest was called by the Prince Georges Public Employes Coalition, a group formed to oppose budget cuts proposed by County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan. Hogan says the cuts are necessary during the next fiscal year to live within TRIM, the vote-approved tax revenue limit.
The job action affects some 17,300 workers, 13,000 of whom are employed in the schools. The county's police and firemen, however, were not asked to participate for safety reasons.
The colaition is asking workers to do only those jobs required of them by their contracts. No additional services-such as after-hours chaperoning or advising by teachers-should be performed, the coalition said.
A spot check of county hospitals, public works and corrections officials indicated operations were normal.
"Most of our trucks left the yard this morning," said Vaughn E. Barkdoll, county public works and transportation director, who reported nothing unusual.
"We have a very group [of workers]. Those who work well continue to work well, and those who goof off will continue to goof off. Work-to-rule may even be a good thing for us. Some of our supervisors are lax on overseeing employe breaks, Barkdoll said.
But in some of the county schools, the job action is taking a toll on some student activities. A camping trip to the Eastern Shore for 10 orthopedically handicapped children at Catherine T. Reed school in Lanham, was canceled. Teachers and classified aids had said they would refuse to chaperone the trip, which was ot begin yesterday, according to John Aubuchon, aide to the school superintendent.
At Thomas Addison Elementary School in Oxon Hill, teachers are drafting a letter to parents notifying them on cancellation of the next monthhs events, including Field Day, the sixth grade promotion party, a music program, and a tea for parent volunteers.
Fran Doyle, who teaches a combination fifth-sixth grade class at Addison, said the children haven't been told of the cancellations yet. "They're going to be very disappointed," she said, describing many of her colleagues as "very reluctant" to curtail the children's activities by refusing to chaperone them. "It will hurt them (the children) now, but it would be beneficial next year if we get things the way we need them."
One teacher, who declined to be identified, said his students at Fairmont Heights High School were aware of the teacher's protect. "I'm a coach. I've been tell them, 'About this athletic banquet, I may not be coming. Here's the reason.'" He said the students' reaction has been "What can we do?"
This teacher said it was "very difficult for the teachers to come to grips with . . . denying the kids the pleasure of an activity . . . to take a stand."
The principal at Fairmont Heights, Clarence McDonald, said student activites will go on because administrators would fill in for absent teachers. "From the outset the instructional program continues to go on," he said.
That response seemed to be typical at most schools contacted. "We have observed no impact of significance in instructional programs," said Aubuchon. "Some of the concievable impacts might not show up for a couple of days."
Some workers saw no impact at all. "We're wearing our pins," said a cafeteria worker at Applegrove Elementary School. "But I don't think it's going to do any good. [For] Everybody [to] walk out is the only type of action. We're working as hard as ever."