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Putting Mentally Disabled Workers at Risk Is No Way to Cut Corners

Rich Santa, who represents the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union at the Leesburg facility, says FAA employees there determined that the mentally disabled workers were ordered to handle asbestos-laden material without any protective gear. He says an FAA worker who reported the incident to managers at the center was told to mind his own business.

"Management said first that there was no problem and then that it was handled properly," Santa said.

Spitaliere, the FAA spokeswoman, says the manager who ordered the crew to handle the debris from the guard shack "is no longer in that position." She declined to say where he is stationed.

Santa said that especially because asbestos had been found at other structures on the center's campus, managers knew better than to charge ahead with demolition.

"The idea that someone would say, 'Have the handicapped people do it' is very disturbing," he said. "They just cut the grass and do the weeding. They work so hard."

The government managers worked hard, too -- at cutting corners and taking advantage of those who most need our care.

E-mail:marcfisher@washpost.com


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