Alexandria Mayor James P. Moran said yesterday his city will refuse to cooperate with D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's plan to recruit and transport D.C. workers to jobs in the Washington suburbs.
"I don't know if Barry realizes we have more low-income job seekers than jobs," Moran said. "It would be inane to give a priority for the jobs to D.C. residents when Alexandrians need them desperately."
Moran said he will send Barry a letter today stating his refusal to sign a Barry-sponsored resolution for regional employment cooperation.
A spokesman for Barry said yesterday that until the District mayor receives Moran's letter, he would not comment on the matter.
Although the District's unemployment rate is the area's highest -- 8 percent in May -- Alexandria tops the jobless ranks among Northern Virginia jurisdictions, according to William Perry of the Virginia Employment Commission. In May, Alexandria had a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, compared with 4.4 percent in Arlington and 3.1 percent in Fairfax.
"Unless we can supply our unemployed to Fairfax," Moran said, he will not sign Barry's resolution at the Aug. 6 Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board meeting.
Fairfax officials, facing a severe shortage of laborers and blue-collar workers brought on by a building boom, applauded Barry's June 11 announcement that the District would help train, recruit, screen, refer and transport workers to Fairfax.
Buoyed by the endorsement of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman John F. Herrity, Barry expanded his request on July 10, asking all 15 members of the Council of Governments to refer employers in their jurisdictions to the District.
COG spokesman Sherrie Conway-Apple said that so far most area officials seem to be willing to cooperate in the effort but that along with Alexandria, Prince George's County officials were troubled by Barry's request.
Conway-Apple said she believes that Prince George's County Council member Jo Ann T. Bell objects to the idea that the District government refuses to employ nonresidents of the District, yet requests suburban governments' help in employing their citizens. Bell could not be reached for comment last night.
Edward Meyers, planning director for the D.C. Department of Employment Services, said yesterday there is still time before the Aug. 6 COG meeting to revise Barry's regional employment resolution. "At this stage we are still asking for comment," Meyers said.