Union Reaches Labor Deal Covering 45,000 U.S. Airport Screeners

Negotiators for 45,000 airport security screeners reached their first labor agreement with the U.S., the American Federation of Government Employees said.

The accord reached early today with the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees screeners at 450 U.S. airports, didn’t include wages, a provision banned when collective bargaining was allowed. The union didn’t release any details in the statement announcing the agreement. The workers also are barred from striking, TSA chief John Pistole wrote last year in a memorandum that set guidelines for negotiations.

The agreement ends a 10-year political fight over union representation and gives TSA workers protections opposed by President George W. Bush. Successor Barack Obama, a Democrat backed by labor unions in his 2008 campaign, reversed Bush and his administration last year cleared the way for the workers to craft a contract, with the restrictions on what issues could be bargained.

Republicans have pressed to cut the size and scope of the agency, which has been criticized by Congress and watchdog agencies for lax screening of employees, purchases of equipment that didn’t work and confrontations with children, senior citizens and elected officials at checkpoints.

In addition to parking and uniforms, the union has been allowed to bargain over attendance, how workers trade shifts and how they win promotion to full-time employment, according to Pistole’s February 2011 decision.

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