Air Force disciplining two mortuary supervisors
The Air Force is disciplining two supervisors after an investigation into retaliation against workers who blew the whistle on the mishandling of remains at the Dover Air Force Base, Del., mortuary.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel released a report March 16 that says three officials retaliated against four employees who sought to expose wrongdoing, and it calls for disciplinary action against those supervisors.
Former mortuary division director Quinton Keel has resigned from the Air Force. The Air Force has begun disciplinary procedures against Col. Robert Edmondson, who commanded the mortuary at the time, and Trevor Dean.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner says the Air Force has committed to improving investigation procedures and how it addresses retaliation claims.
She says the whistleblowers’ actions have resulted in significant improvements at the mortuary. AP
Delegation strikes back at Air Force over C-130s
The congressional delegation is worried the U.S. Air Force may be reconsidering its plan to move eight C-130s to the Montana Air National Guard in Great Falls.
The Montana officials had been expecting the cargo plane to replace F-15 fighter jets that the Air Force has already said would be taken away.
The Air Force earlier this week told a Senate panel they are reconsidering moving the C-130s from Texas because of concern from Gulf Coast states.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and Rep. Denny Rehberg, all wrote letters March 15 to Defense Department officials. The delegation lobbied for the Air Force to stick with the planned mission after MANG loses its current F-15s later this year. AP
TriWest loses military health benefits contract
Phoenix, Ariz.,-based TriWest Healthcare Alliance has lost a $20.5 billion contract to manage health benefits for U.S. military families, and company officials say 1,000 jobs in Arizona are now at risk.
The U.S. Department of Defense announced March 16 that it chose UnitedHealth Group over TriWest to serve military family members across 20 western states.
TriWest chief executive David McIntyre said the company is disappointed.
TriWest plans to meet with department officials next week to learn why the company did not win the contract.
McIntyre says TriWest will file a protest if the company discovers a legitimate reason to do so after meeting with department officials. Otherwise, he says operations will start to wind down after its contract ends in March 2013.
TriWest employs about 1,700 people across its territory, including 1,000 in Arizona. AP
Judge refuses to dismiss homeless veterans suit
A federal judge says he won’t dismiss a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by homeless, mentally impaired veterans.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of three Southern California veterans who allege the department failed to provide proper housing.
The VA sought to have the case dismissed but the Los Angeles Times reports U.S. District Judge S. James Otero said Friday that the case should proceed.
Otero says Congress has made it “crystal clear” that the large tract of land in West Los Angeles is intended to benefit veterans
The ACLU says the government is renting out portions of the land to the UCLA baseball team, the private Brentwood School and other entities.
The VA has previously declined comment on pending litigation. AP
Boeing, Machinists union discuss plant closure
The Machinists union has begun talks with Boeing about what will happen to Wichita’s hourly workers as the company closes the facility.
The Wichita Eagle reported that the discussions include issues such as dates of closure, relocation packages, medical coverage and pension.
Union officials say their goal is to have represented employees placed in jobs at one of Boeing’s sites if they are willing to relocate.
The union represents about 325 of Boeing Wichita’s 2,100 employees.
The Wichita plant is set to close at the end of 2013, with the work that had been done there moving to Oklahoma City and San Antonio. The Puget Sound area in Washington state will get a tanker refinishing center that had been planned for Wichita. AP