Airport security in limbo on union rights

WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- U.S. airport security personnel are waiting for the power to negotiate collectively as a workforce, while staff moral remains low, a union spokeswoman said.
Although other federal law officials can negotiate collectively, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under President George Bush argued that giving Transportation Security Administration officers the right to collectively negotiate would hamper their ability to react to an emergency, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to allow airport security the right to negotiate but has yet to appoint an Homeland Security administrator who would have the power to grant the new arrangement.

"We're kind of in a holding pattern, waiting for the (department) or the administration to take some action," Emily Ryan of the American Federation of Government Employees told the Post.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said last month that low staffing levels require personnel to work extra shifts and officers work up to 14 hours a day are paid for only eight because of split schedules.

Last month, AFGE President John Gage said it was an "insult, really, to the labor movement to say that somehow having the right to belong to a union somehow affects national security," the Post report said.

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