Utah Lawmaker Says TSA Screeners Retaliated For Unionization Vote

TSA Says Security Procedures Were Followed Properly
Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz is not a fan of body scan machines used by TSA to screen some passengers before getting on an airliner. Returning to Washington recently from Utah, he says he was directed to a line that included the full body scan, and when he refused, he says he was challenged by TSA employees.

Chaffetz says he thinks the confrontation was due in part to his vote against a bill that would allow TSA employees to engage in collective bargaining, which passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

According to The Washington Post, Utah media reports that witnesses said during the confrontation Chaffetz acted "obnoxiously" and "used an obscenity" while going through security. Chaffetz admits that he cursed, but denies touching a TSA officer.

Chaffetz, who is strongly opposed to the use of the full-body scanners, introduced a bill making them a secondary screening device, and one which is voluntary on the part of the passengers. His bill passed as part of the TSA authorization bill in the house, but has yet to be acted on in the Senate.

Being scanned is already voluntary, but Chaffetz says airports should make that more clear by posting the information prominently in the security area. "Getting in the [body imaging] line is 100 percent optional," he said. "But they don’t let you know it’s optional, and when you exercise your right you’re treated with the greatest of suspicion."

Chaffetz said after a pat-down search, he asked to see a TSA supervisor to ask why the information was not clearly posted. He says that request was initially denied. When he identified himself as a member of Congress, Chaffetz says the TSA personnel said "Oh, we know exactly who you are." When a supervisor did not appear in a few minutes, he says he left his card on a desk and walked away.

TSA says all procedures were followed correctly, and that Chaffetz chose to get in the line with the full body scanner. Sharon Pinnock, members and organization director for the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a news release “It does seem odd that Congressman Chaffetz would choose to use an image machine that he would like to see banned. We are hard-pressed to understand his thinking on this since he previously had been given a tour of the ITM lane to this incident and knew quite well what the process could involve." AFGE's Local 1120 represents some Salt Lake City TSA officers.

Pinnock said the TSO who administered the pat-down search had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, and did not recognize Chaffetz. Chaffetz said he plans no further action in relation to the incident.

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