Union resumes effort to organize airport screeners

The American Federation of Government Employees has filed a motion in federal appeals court in an effort to organize airport screeners at the Transportation Security Administration.

AFGE filed a motion on Jan. 15 with the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn an order from former TSA Administrator James Loy that prohibits airport screeners from engaging in collective bargaining practices, AFGE's assistant general counsel Anne Wagner said Thursday.

Loy issued an order in January 2003 that TSA 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 (ATSA), which created the agency.

AFGE President John Gage has said the union will go to the Supreme Court if necessary to secure union representation for screeners.

The union is asking the appeals court to overturn a decision made by the U.S. District Court for D.C. last November that ruled that the Federal Labor Relations Authority should decide whether Loy had the authority under the act to prohibit union organizing. The FLRA upheld Loy's decision in November.

Loy left TSA in late November to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department.

The union argues that FLRA does not have any special expertise with regard to ATSA, and therefore should not be the agency that decides whether screeners can organize, Wagner said.

"The question that we presented to the district court was a straightforward administrative law question that said under ATSA, Loy did not have the authority to issue the directive prohibiting employees from engaging in collective bargaining," Wagner said. "We believe the question of the scope of powers under the ATSA is one that is classically defined by the judiciary."

A TSA spokesman declined to comment because the court case is still pending.

The government's response to the appeal is due in February and oral arguments are scheduled to begin April 22, Wagner said.

Although screeners are prohibited from having official union representation, AFGE has agreed to represent some of them on legal matters, said Peter Winch, the union's national organizer.

Winch said AFGE won a settlement on Jan. 16 for a screener at Pittsburgh International Airport who is also a union organizer. The screener was cited by a supervisor after a meeting. The supervisor told workers they were dismissed after the meeting, but the screener did not leave because he was off duty. Instead, he asked other off-duty workers if they wanted to meet about forming a union. The screener was cited the next day for failing to follow an order, Winch said.

AFGE protested the action and, under a settlement reached last week with TSA, the citation has been removed from the screener's file and supervisors at Pittsburgh International Airport must now receive remedial training on their authority over workers.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.