Union to appeal court ruling on screener bargaining rights

The American Federation of Government Employees is appealing a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss a lawsuit the union filed against the Transportation Security Administration demanding collective bargaining rights for airport screeners.

For the past nine months, union officials have fought to overturn a decision by TSA Administrator James Loy, who said he would not bargain with screener unions, because it was "not compatible with the flexibility required to wage the war against terrorism." AFGE contends that Loy's directive violates the Constitution and the 2001 Aviation and Transportation Security Act.

In July, a regional Federal Labor Relations Authority judge upheld Loy's decision. AFGE officials then took their fight to federal district court. On Sept. 5, a district court judge dismissed the case, instructing AFGE to exhaust its FLRA appeal options. Now, union officials are appealing that ruling to the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

AFGE president John Gage said TSA employees need union protection. "As a result of TSA's 'make-it-up-as-you-go-along' personnel system, screeners are being unfairly disciplined and even fired for their efforts to protect the public," he said. "Without management accountability, many screeners are being forced to ignore, or make exceptions to, potentially dangerous situations for fear of losing their jobs." Darrin Kayser, a TSA spokesman, said agency officials could not discuss pending litigation.

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