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A luggage cart drives by a Southwest plane at terminal in BWI Airport. (File)
A luggage cart drives by a Southwest plane at terminal in BWI Airport. (File)

BWI unions call for investigation into airport CEO

Six labor unions representing workers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport want the state to investigate the appointment of BWI CEO Ricky D. Smith, who was named executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration by Gov. Larry Hogan in July.

In September, the Baltimore Sun reported that the Federal Aviation Administration had imposed $735,000 in fines against Cleveland for understaffing snow removal teams at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport while Smith was the CEO of that airport.

A spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan was critical of  the unions’ move. “This is nothing more than politics and responding to these claims is a complete waste of state resources and taxpayer dollars,” said Douglass Mayer. “It is hard to believe that they can call for an investigation into things they admit haven’t occurred and keep a straight face. The administration will remain focused on running BWI in the most effective and efficient manner possible.”

The unions — AFSCME Council 3, UNITE HERE Local 7, IUOE Local 37, CWA Local 2252, AFGE District 4 and the Teamsters — said they are concerned about potential understaffing problems at BWI and the ramifications for passenger safety because of Smith’s record in Cleveland, according to a statement.

The unions want the Maryland General Assembly to investigate Smith’s appointment and require legislative oversight for such appointments.

“This is too important of a position for the selection to happen behind closed doors,” said Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME State Council 3, which represents 25,0000 state employees, including BWI workers, in a statement. “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.”

While a hearing is unlikely, sources within the state Senate have said legislation is being discussed for the 2016 session that would require Smith’s position to go through Senate confirmation.

The Senate Executive Nominations Committee is responsible for reviewing and approving hundreds of executive appointments, from judges to members of small, unpaid local commission positions.

The unions said they also are concerned about a complaint filed with the Department of Labor regarding an allegation that a whistleblower at Cleveland airport who reported the staffing issues was demoted the day after he came forward, said the statement.

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