For immediate release
November 4, 2015
Six unions representing BWI workers call for reform following controversy over Ricky Smith’s appointment
Labor unions representing workers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) are calling on the State of Maryland to investigate the appointment of Ricky Smith as BWI’s CEO after troubling information has emerged about his record at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
The Hogan administration appointed Ricky Smith as executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA), which runs BWI, in July. Just months after his appointment, news broke that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had imposed $735,000 in fines against the City of Cleveland for not adequately staffing snow removal teams at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport while Mr. Smith was that airport’s director.
The unions—AFSCME Council 3, UNITE HERE Local 7, IUOE Local 37, CWA Local 2252, AFGE District 4 and the Teamsters—are concerned about their work environment if understaffing becomes an issue at BWI, but they are even more troubled by the ramifications for passenger safety. The FAA found that Cleveland Hopkins Airport had serious safety issues with the airport’s runways, did not close off parts of runways that were not safe, and failed to notify airlines of runway problems.
The unions are calling on the leaders of the Maryland General Assembly to investigate the appointment of Ricky Smith as an immediate action item and to reform the process to require legislative oversight over such appointments going forward. Currently the selection of executive director of the MAA does not require legislative confirmation.
“This is too important of a position for the selection to happen behind closed doors,” said Patrick Moran, President of AFSCME State Council 3, the union that represents 25,0000 Maryland State employees, including workers at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. “A confirmation process in the Maryland legislature would have brought the runway safety issues to light and would have given the people of Maryland a chance to learn more about Ricky Smith’s record and qualifications.”
Also of concern to BWI’s unions is an allegation of retaliation against a whistle-blower at Cleveland Hopkins who says he helped to bring some of the staffing problems to light. According to a complaint filed with the Department of Labor by Abdul-Malik Ali, the former manager of field maintenance at Hopkins, he was demoted the day after he reported the staffing issues to the FAA.
Communications Workers of America Local 2252 represents workers at American Airlines at BWI Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI), Regan National Airport and Dulles International Airport.
AFSCME State Council 3 represents 25,000 Maryland state employees, including workers at BWI.
UNITE HERE Local 7 represents Maryland workers in the hospitality and food service industry including airline catering and concessions workers at BWI.
The Teamsters represent parking shuttle drivers at BWI.
IUOE Local 37 represents skilled maintenance employees at BWI.