Union Goes to Court over Airport Workers; AFGE Files to Overturn Ban on Collective Bargaining for Security Screeners

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Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is trying again to unionize airport security screeners by filing an appeal against the government's efforts to block organizing efforts.

The AFGE filed a motion Jan. 15 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to overturn a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ban on collective bargaining for screeners.

The AFGE appeal says the ban violates constitutional rights and federal laws that allow workers to join unions.

In January 2003, TSA Administrator James Loy, a retired Coast Guard admiral, issued an order that said screeners, "in light of their critical national security responsibilities, shall not as a term or condition of their employment be entitled to engage in collective bargaining or be represented for the purposes of engaging in such bargaining by any representative or organization."

Mr. Loy left the TSA on Nov. 25 to become deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

"Our position has not changed," said Chris Rhatigan, TSA spokeswoman. "We feel that our federal security work force needs to have the flexibility to deploy screeners when and where we need them. To have groups of screeners gathered together collectively to bargain with us is unacceptable."

So far, the TSA has won all legal challenges to its ban on unions.

In an earlier AFGE lawsuit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in November that the Federal Labor Relations Authority had the jurisdiction to determine whether the TSA could forbid union organizing among screeners. …