The D.C. Department of Corrections disclosed yesterday that 225 employes will be laid off before the end of the month, moving the District's budget crisis a step closer to reality for dozens of corrections workers fearful of losing their jobs.
The department layoff list -- which includes the jobs of 150 guards -- did not name the employes to be released. Dismissal slips are to be sent out next week.
But word of the pending job reductions prompted "hundreds of extra calls" to the D.C. jail yesterday from employes, one telephone operator said. For some, those with virtually no seniority, receiving the dreaded pink slips will be only a formality as they become victims of Mayor Marion Barry's effort to avoid a $172.4 million potential budget gap.
Many of those most likely to lose their jobs are women corrections guards who were among the most recent ones hired -- like Yolanda Jefferson, who quit what she considered a "dead-end" job as a hospital security guard only two months ago to come to work for the D.C. government.
"I came here to better myself.I'm the head of my household. I have to pay bills. I have a seven-year-old daughter," she said during a shift change yesterday outside the jail.
"I had planned to move because the roaches are running me out of my house. Now, I can't do nothing," Jefferson said. "I came to work, and now they tell me I don't have no job. I'm angry."
Bertha Jordan, 47, gave up a low-paying secretarial job she had held for nine years to join the department two months ago. She's said she is worried that her daughter may now have to drop out of college.
"I worked hard to put her in there. I'm working hard to keep her there. What am I going to do?" Jordan asked.
Debra Byrd, a 25-year-old school teacher who recently quit a job in Jersey City, N.J., said she was "angry and disappointed." Her husband has suggested they go back home. "There's nothing here," she said quietly. And Charlene Palmer, 30, also working only two months, said she had decided to just put away $5 in each paycheck for future security.
"I guess that's out," she said.
The women guards, many of whom said they were household heads, are most likely to be laid off because those hired last will be dismissed first, according to corrections spokesman Leroy B. Anderson. In some cases, persons with prior government experience or those who are veterans will be less likely to be dismissed because they have more civil service protection, he said.
Yesterday's disclosure came in the form of a letter from Corrections Director Delbert C. Jackson to Joseph Majewski, president of Local 1550 of the American Federation of Goverment Employes, the union that represents most of the department's 1,800 workers.
"The above may be subject to change and, if any occur, I will notify you," Jackson said after listing the positions that would be vacated. "I sincerely regret the necessity of having to take this action, but the department's (fiscal) plight dictates that I must do so."
The Corrections Department was targeted by Barry to shoulder the largest number of cuts -- more than 400 jobs, including 360 layoffs -- because it had been most guilty of overspending in the past, city officials said.
Shortly after the initial plan was announced, Jackson said that 360 layoffs would cripple the department's operations. He later proposed only 190. Yesterday's letter detailed a slightly higher number that city officials did not immediately explain.
Among the cuts will be five of the department's 35 parole officers. Such officers already have case loads ranging from 50 to 85 former prisoners.
Other proposed cuts include five psychologists, 16 job placement officials and four high-level executive assistants.
Fewer than 50 of the 225 persons have pay-grade rankings above GS8 -- with an annual salary that begins at $15,423 a year. Newly hired guards, such as the women, earn $12,500 a year.
Five of the department's 49 budget officers will be laid off. The layoff of 150 guards would reduce to about 950 the number of corrections officers at the Lorton correction facility and the jail.
City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers said yesterday that no other layoff notices have been set. Barry initially proposed eliminating 1,223 jobs from the city payroll including 546 through layoffs.
Later, in an effort to win approval of a $20.2 million tax package, he began discussions with City Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), chairman of the council's tax committee, to increase the number of job reductions to 2,500, all of which would be layoffs. Wilson and Barry have not reached a final agreement.