After pleas last month from Mayor Marion Barry's summer jobs for youth program, the Army Times Co. agreed to employ 24 city teen-agers for the summer. Last week - three weeks after the teen-agers were to have begun work - the city had sent only two to the company.
At the Banneker Recreation Center, across from Howard University, director Edythe Bradley said she did not need any summer youth workers. By last week, job program officials had sent her 140.
The confusing and frustrating situation for teen-agers and employers at Army Times and Banneker appears to be typical of what has happened to Barry's highly publicized campaign to have Congress, the Board of Trade and government agencies make 30,000 summer jobs available to city youth.
Although Barry claimed to have reached his goal of providing 30,000 jobs before he left for a tour of Africa, the city government's bureaucracy has had difficulty matching teenagers with jobs.
A random survey of employers participating in the summer jobs program revealed the following problems:
Only 165 teen-agers had been sent to work at the Staton Dwelling public housing project, although city officials had agreed to sen 300.
An official at the D.C. Environmental Services Department said that so many more youths were sent to the department than had planned for that there were not enough officials to supervise the teen-agers. "I'm going 40 to 50 to one," the official said.
Employers and teen-agers at all 20 job sites surveyed said they were not getting biweekly paychecks on time or that checks were for the wrong amount. At the National Prison Project, one teen-ager worked a month without getting paid. A check for $62.19 was issued to a 16-year-old girl the day before she started work at Stanton Dwellings.
"The whole program is screwed up," said John Blake of the D.C. Youth Congress. "The (D.C.) Department of Labor totally screwed the whole thing up for the kids when it looked like the city was really trying to do something for kids. When the mayor gets back (from Africa), I'm going to be in his face telling him about what's going on with this program...."
Matthew Shannon, acting director of the city's Labor Department, said he is unaware of any major problems with the summer jobs program. He said there have been payroll problems.
"When you double a program from 15,000 to 30,000," Shannon said, "there are going to be some problems.... There are times when I don't get a paycheck because of some mess up. But that's no reason to stop working or condemn the Department of Labor."
The manager of Hardy Shoes in Iverson Mall canceled the one summer job he had promised the mayor's program because the city, after three weeks, still had not assigned a teen-ager to the job.
Apparently tired of waiting on the city, Army Times personnel manager Marie Claveloux said she has hired seven people to do the marketing survey she had intended to have the teenagers do.
Claveloux said that when she contacted the Labor Department about the problem she was told the teen-agers had not yet been told where they would be working.
In another case, a group took the D.C. Labor Department to court July 16, seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the department from reassigning their summer employes to another group.
The D.C. Survival Project, a group that educates poor people about city housing, health employment services, said the Labor Department mistakenly told teen-aged summer workers that the project's program was canceled, consequently disrupting the project's summer jobs program.
"The bottom line in this whole thing," said Mawu Straker, D.C. Survival Project executive director, "is human suffering...some kids have totally dropped out of the summer jobs program because it's too much confusion and frustration."
Superior Court Judge James A. Belson denied the group's request for the restraining order but has scheduled a hearing Monday to determine if a permanent restraining order should be issued against the Labor Department.
"As far as the recreation centers go, they have employed too many kids," said Timothy Mullin, assistant manager of the Banneker pool. "When they first came here a month ago, they didn't have any work for them. They might have created jobs just for the sake of creating jobs, which may be worse than giving them nothing to do."
Around the center teen-aged employes can be seen lounging on steps, talking and eating.
Asked what job skills and work habits he is developing this summer at the Banneker Center, Robert Williams, 16, of Southeast said: "Nothing but how to make a dollar."
Shannon said he knows that some work sites have too many teen-aged workers and too few supervisors.
"Let's say we get a job cancellation," Shannon said, "and we have a hundred teen-agers we have to find someplace for. We'll call over to (William) Rumsey (recreation department director) and say can you take another hundred. And he'll say okay, I'll do it for the mayor. But he might forget to tell his supervisors to expect another hundred kids, so when the kids show up the supervisors have a panic."
In addition to problems at job sites, the program has also resulted in internal problems for the labor department. Nine persons in the payroll division submitted resignations to Shannon in fron of TV cameras last week after complaining they had been forced to work overtime for four consecutive weeks as the department tries to process the paper work for the program.
Marty Beyer, director of the D.C. Coalition For Youth, said the program's troubles are the result of poor planning by the Labor Department for the massive task of getting 30,000 teen-agers started in summer jobs.
"Mayor Barry had good intentions," she said. "Everyone wants to give the kids more jobs, but he did not take the necessary steps to deliver on those jobs. He didn't put good leaders in the right positions at the Department of Labor to deliver on his project...they were unable to gear up to meet the initiative the mayor set forth. You've got the same Walter Washington people running this program for 30,000 teen-agers who were being criticized for the way they handled last summer's program for 15,000 people."
The youth coalition's newspaper, Youth Work News, has challenged Barry's claim to have provided 30,000 jobs for city youth.
"This (the 30,000 figure) is a grossly inflated figure, descriptive neither of the number of jobs generated for youth nor the number of youth currently working. Not more than 20,000 are actually working in the summer program as of July 12."
The newspaper based its estimate on talks with job supervisors.
Employers complain that because of the Labor Department's delay in telling teen-agers where they will be working, they straggle to work one by one daily.
"It's impossible to stop working every time one more of these kids comes in and train him how to do the jobs," said the director of a federal agency, who asked that neither he nor his agency be identified. "I wanted to teach them how to handle the filing system. But after I showed the first two, I couldn't invest any more time in it. We still have some of these kids coming in here.I can't stop every time...I know it's not the kids' fault, but they are paying for the Department of Labor's problems, because I am not going to." CAPTION: Picture, Susan Thompkins' job at the Bureau of Prisons is part of the D.C. summer program. By John McDonnell - The Washington Post