Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.) and Rep. Gus Hawkins (D-Calif.) are most anxious to avoid, or minimize, furloughs at the Government Printing Office. The world's largest print shop has notified its 6,300 staffers here that, starting in May, about half of them will be furloughed for up to 13 days, one day every two weeks. GPO says it is having money problems because people aren't buying what it is printing.

Mathias' and Hawkins' interest in furlough-avoidance is important, because they head the Joint Congressional Committee on Printing and Mathias represents a lot of the would-be furloughees. The committee has a lot to say about the running of the GPO, which is an agency of Congress.

The two legislators met briefly Tuesday with Public Printer Danford L. Sawyer Jr. (who has ordered the furloughs) and GPO union leaders George Lord, Fred Allen, William J. Boarman, John Sagner and VermelleKinnard. The union people, naturally, oppose the furloughs.

After the legislators left, words--some of which you wouldn't want your granny to read in a family newspaper--were exchanged between labor and management.

Despite the hard feelings, insiders believe that, given the interest of Mathias and Hawkins, there may be some changes in the current GPO furlough plan coming up.