A new nine-member commission named to evaluate alternatives to the law reducing Washington unemployment benefits contains three members of the union groups that endorsed the law but no representative of the groups that recently began a drive to rescind it.
City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) has appointed as head of the commission Woodrow Boggs Jr., a close friend and adviser to Jarvis.
Jarvis, chairman of the council's Committee on Housing and Economic Development, said that formation of the new commission "marks the first time that organized labor and the business community have agreed on the procedure to be used in addressing issues on which the two communities differ."
But the announcement only served to fuel the dispute within organized labor over the new city law, which attempts to eliminate a $57 million deficit in the unemployment compensation system by reducing the maximum number of weeks that unemployed workers can collect city unemployment benefits from 34 to 26 weeks and cutting out benefits for persons who are fired from their jobs for cause.
Ron Richardson, secretary-treasurer of Local 25 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union and an opponent of the new law, said yesterday that the new commission was little more than "window dressing," with no power to help the unemployed until after the new legislation expires in 1985.
Richardson, whose union was suspended by the Metropolitan Washington Council (AFL-CIO) last year in a dispute over dues payments, said he urged Council President Joslyn N. Williams to appoint an official of Local 118 of the Bakers Union to the unemployment compensation panel.
Instead, Williams chose William Simons, who recently was ousted in a disputed election as president of the Washington Teachers Union; Geri Palast, a staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union, and David Robinson, business manager for Cement Masons Local 891. All are members of the labor council, which has endorsed the new law.
Other members of the new panel include Theodore Lutz, vice president-controller of The Washington Post; Gwyn Collins, manager of labor relations at Woodward & Lothrop; Marcus Griffith, president of Hairlox Company; Larry Weston, director of the Metropolitan Washington Planning and Housing Association, and Matthew Shannon, director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services.
Boggs, a former assistant dean of Howard University law school and a lobbyist who recently was hired to represent the Association of Plaintiffs' Trial Attorneys, also serves as Jarvis' appointee to the D.C. Cable Design Commission. He helped manage Jarvis's unsuccessful campaign for mayor last year.
Williams was not available for comment. A spokesman said the labor council was under no obligation to honor Richardson's request. "He's not paying dues to the council," the spokesman said. "He took his group out a year ago. He has very little to say about what goes on."
Richardson has appealed to Mayor Marion Barry's office to intervene in the dispute and see to it that the Food and Allied Service Trades Council gets representation on the commission.
However, Gwen Hemphill, Barry's special assistant for labor liaison, said yesterday that Richardson and Williams must iron out their own differences.
Richardson said that former City Council chairman Sterling Tucker, a private consultant, may be retained by opponents of the new law to draft the wording of the citizens' initiative.