Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
September 3, 2006

This week’s review is abbreviated as we focus on our imminent Labor Day Special.

Making Us Secure
While Homeland Security worked feverishly at the nation’s airports confiscating bottled water to protect us from terrorist attacks, the FAA failed to prevent an airliner from racing down a runway too short to allow take off. The resulting crash killed more than lost their lives in the terrorist hijacking of United flight 93 on 9/11. It was the crew’s first visit to the airport since a new runway configuration was implemented just the previous week. Even after they made a wrong turn disaster could likely have been averted if the air traffic controller had immediately alerted them. But, unlike Homeland Security, the FAA has been penny-pinching. Although their own rules call for two controllers to be on duty at this airport there was only one. He had worked fifteen out of the previous 24 hours, and had managed only two hours sleep between shifts. After clearing the ill-fated flight for take off he had turned his attention to catching up on paper work. And people wonder why I don’t fly any more.

One Man’s Trash…
After plea bargaining two men got burglary charges reduced to trespassing for taking five cucumbers, four or five apricots, two bundles of asparagus spears and a handful of cherries–from a garbage can at Sweet Pea Produce in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The men said they arrived in town late, after all stores selling food were closed, and weren’t aware that garbage pilfering was taken so seriously in Colorado. By copping to the lesser charge these produce purloiners got off easy with only six months jail time.

Afghan Recovery
“Opium Harvest at Record Level in Afghanistan,” proclaims a headline in today’s New York Times.

Teachers Strike Where All Kids Are Left Behind
Life had been grim enough for the last several generations of youth living in the Occupied Territories, conquered by Israel in 1967, today governed by the Palestinian Authority. Things have gotten much worse since Palestinian voters chose Hamas to be their governing party. Bush and the European Union immediately cut off aid and Israel sealed off Palestine, bringing most economic activity to a halt. The 175,000 Palestinian public employees, including teachers, have received little pay since March. Desperate, their unions have turned to the tactic of last resort for workers everywhere—the strike.

The Hamas government has declared the strikes illegal, says it has no money to pay, and claims such disruption is just what Israel and the U.S. want to see.

We support the right to strike unconditionally. We are no fans of the political perspective of Hamas. But we recognize they indeed are short the 150 million dollars in aid pledges reneged on by Bush and his European allies and are also being starved by the Israeli blockade. Such actions aimed at overthrowing a democratically elected regime run counter to every principle of democracy and self-determination.

Those of us in this country can best show our solidarity with Palestinian working people by demanding that the government that speaks in our name come through with the aid that was pledged to support essential services in Palestine and further call on Israel to lift the blockade of the Occupied Territories.

Thankful For His Daily Bread
General Electric’s CEO, Jeffrey R. Immelt, “earns” as much in one day as the average U.S. teacher makes in a year (46,600).

That’s almost all for this week—the Labor Day Special will be out on Labor Day.

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