District officials and a group of angry Corrections Department guards met for more than four hours at the District Building last night in an apparently unsuccessful effort to head off a guards' work stoppage this morning at D.C. Jail and Lorton Reformatory.
Spokesman for the guards, who threatened the job action to protest staff shortages that they say have created unsafe working conditions, said they expected most of the deparement's guards to take part in the stoppage.
City officials said they would seek a temporary restraining order to halt the job action, but guards' spokesman said they would ignore any such order.
Shouts and outbursts could be heard through the heavy oaken doors of the small, fifth floor conference room where the meeting was held.
The guards were demanding written assurances that a layoff of 76 employes would be canceled and that additional guards would be hired to replace those who have quit and have not been replaced.
The guards said that unless the meeting produced some results the regular day shift of officers at the jail and at Lorton would report to work at 7:30 a.m. today, but not take up their posts. Leaders of the guards, who were acting without their union's sanction, said the midnight shift would remain at the jail and carry out only minimum security work. The guards said they would stay at the jail until their demands are met.
Donald Weinberg, Mayor Marion Barry's chief labor negotiator, joined Corrections Department Director Delbert C. Jackson and City Corporation Counsel Judith Rogers to head the city's representatives at the meeting.Weinberg had held two meetings during the day with union officials who formally disavowed the job action.
Early in the meeting, Jackson could be heard telling the guards that he had lobbied hard against an initial planned cut of 225 employes in his department last spring and there was only so much he could do. Jackson said he told the mayor that a cut that size would be "castrating" the department. Jackson said he would ask the mayor later this week for permission to hire more personnel, but his promise did not satisfy the guards.
When the guards said they wanted job protections recently approved by a congressional committee for the city's police and fire departments, Weinberg said they would have to lobby Capital Hill.
"They [police and fire unions] have been up there night and day," Weinberg said.