Mechanic Gets Back His Job And His Wheels
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 31, 2005
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS--A few weeks ago, Arthur "Red" Burchyett lost his job and his wheelchair on the same day.
When Burchyett, a paraplegic freelance mechanic with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, was laid off from his job due to budget cuts, he was told he had to turn in the custom-designed wheelchair the state had purchased in 1994 so he could do his work. The $25,000 wheelchair was built to fit Burchyett's body and to stand him up so he could work over the top of an engine and lower him to work under a chassis.
Burchyett's friend, Lane Rhodes, said the loss of his job and wheelchair was doubly hard for the 62-year-old, who was paralyzed in a tractor accident eleven years ago.
"He didn't feel wanted anymore, felt like he was just a number," Rhodes told the Chicago Tribune.
When word of the loss got around his community, two local families offered to give Burchyett wheelchairs they no longer needed. While that was a nice gesture, the chairs did not allow him to work the way he needs to.
Word of his situation also hit the press and worked its way up state government to Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Last Friday, Blagojevich ordered the department to give Burchyett back his chair -- and his old job.
"You can't look at everything in terms of dollars and cents," the governor said in a statement.
"Yes, these are tough times and we have to make tough decisions, but that has to be balanced with compassion and common sense."
"State takes man's job --and his wheelchair" (Chicago Tribune)
"Rehire ordered of laid-off paraplegic" (Pantograph)