PHOENIX: Defending labor’s rights at America West Airlines

When pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and other workers at America West Airlines (AWA) agreed to concessions following Sept. 11, 2001, they thought they were saving their jobs and helping a staggering industry get back on its feet. AWA got back on its feet, all right, and ran out the door with workers’ investment.

On Oct. 15, all four unions, working in coalition, held a midday rally demanding that their contracts be honored, benefits restored and layoffs halted. Workers jammed Tempe Beach Park. They mounted billboards on trucks bringing their issues directly to the community.

“The [union] Coalition finds it atrocious that senior management rewarded themselves first with a very lucrative bonus plan last quarter and then just recently, again rewarded some managers with stock options, while at the same time ignoring the needs of labor,” said pilot and union leader Captain Terry Stadler. “The union employees of AWA are the lowest paid and most productive employees in the industry. Management needs to stop exploiting its employees and reward our industry-leading service.”

FORT STEWART, Ga.: Soldiers rip Army health care

There are 633 National Guard and Army Reserve troops suffering from Iraq war wounds or injuries, but they are waiting weeks or months for treatment, are housed in non-air-conditioned barracks and share bathrooms.

“The medical care here, in my personal opinion, I feel is substandard, if any,” said Spc. Joseph Eason who arrived here from Iraq in August. Eason has five metal shards lodged in his lower body from a mortar round. Since then, his “treatment’ has amounted to one doctor appointment, a visit to a physician assistant and one physical therapy session.

Spc. Chris Rinchich has been on a waiting list for knee surgery since May. He spent the summer in non-air-conditioned barracks and does not expect to leave Fort Stewart until next summer.

Defensive Army officials said they do not have the money to provide adequate housing or quality health care.

WASHINGTON: Hailing down racism

For decades, African Americans have formed their own “jitney” cab service because commercial taxi cabs refuse to transport them. That began to change when Bryan Greene, 35, sued a taxi company for discrimination in federal court and won.

On April 2, 2000, a Your Way taxi driver would not pick up Greene at Lowe’s L’Enfant Plaza. Greene said the driver looked right him, “sized me up” and then pulled away as a hotel doorman tapped on the cab for the taxi to stop.

The court ordered the parent company of Your Way taxi, Amritsar Auto Services, to pay Greene an undisclosed sum, and to spend $2,000 on advertising saying that Your Way requires drivers to pick up all passengers and carry them to any destination in the District.

“It was embarrassing, and I was stunned,” said Greene. “The driver’s actions were brazen in the presence of others. The settlement gives me an opportunity to improve the situation for others.”

NEW HAVEN, Conn.: Yale Law School sues Pentagon

The Yale Law School has denied the military access to the campus for recruitment because it discriminates against Gays and Lesbians. The Department of Defense (DoD) retaliated by withholding $300 million in aid for scientific research. In a legal suit signed by two-thirds of the Law School students, Yale is fighting to restore the research grants and enforce their non-discrimination policy.

David Rosen, Yale’s lawyer, said that the DoD “is not interested in compromise. They are interested in drafting the faculty into its war on gays and lesbians. That is not fair. That’s bullying.”

DETROIT: Public outcry over home health care cuts

With a $900 million hole in the state budget, Michigan decided to slash $17 million from the program that delivers in-home health care to disabled and elderly residents. In two weeks, over 500 letters arrived on the desk of T.J. Bucholz, spokesman for the Department of Community Health, and “not one of them was in support,” he said. The Department announced that it is reassessing proposed cuts.

“This is an important first step,” responded Bob Allison, of the Michigan Quality Home Care Campaign. “We think it’s fantastic that [Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s] administration views home care as a viable, cost-effective form of long-term care.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Dan Bosh and George Fishman contributed to this week’s clips

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