HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A union attorney who flew to Honolulu to consult with airport security workers being fired said Monday at least some of those workers will contest their termination.
Cathie McQuiston, Deputy Director and Staff Counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees, said she met Sunday with about 15 of the 36 TSA workers targeted for termination. McQuiston said they have until Friday to contest being fired.
"They have until Friday to submit a response to the charges against them and at that time the agency is supposed to consider their response and then take a final action, make a decision to uphold the termination or give them some sort of lesser penalty," McQuiston told Hawaii News Now by phone shortly after boarding a flight back to Washington D.C.
AFGE is one of two unions vying to organize TSA workers. The other is the National Treasury Employees Union. TSA workers nation wide are voting on which union they prefer. Results of the vote will be announced June 23, 2011.
McQuiston said workers admit to bypassing approved screening protocol, but said they were forced to abandon approved practice because TSA management pressured them to work faster.
"The management at Honolulu Airport failed to provide adequate resources both technology wise and staffing wise to allow these officers to do their job properly," she said.
"They were directed to move bags along. They were directed to rush it. They did. And that area they were in, they've always been short staffed. Always," added Al Baang, a TSA Lead Screener at Honolulu International Airport and a dues paying member of AFGE.
Baang is not one of the 63 workers being fired, but he said he knows almost all of them and has spoken to several of them about what happened. He too blames TSA management. He believes some of the management being fired should be let go, but he does not think Federal Security Director Glen Kajiyama should lose his job. Baang describes Kajiyama as a "damn good man" who is "loved, not liked, loved" by his workers. Baang said Kajiyama was not part of the pressure from "upstairs" that drove workers to bend the rules.
Baang admits procedure was not followed, but he told Hawaii News Now no matter how busy screeners always checked for explosives.
"What you worry about are explosives that go on the plane. And they screened for explosives," he said.