January 05, 2010
Emily Ryan
(202) 355-8154 (cell)

AFGE Commends Efforts of Unionized TSA Workers in Bakersfield HazMat Incident

(WASHINGTON)-The American Federation of Government Employees today applauded the efforts of, and expressed concern for the Transportation Security Officers injured in a hazardous material incident at Meadows Field Airport in Bakersfield, Calif.

On Tuesday, the outside of a checked bag tested positive for the presence of TNT. The TSOs who examined the contents of the bag were overcome by fumes emitted from the bag, and were taken to the hospital with symptoms including nausea and headache.

“These TSOs—one of whom is an AFGE member—didn’t waver when doing their jobs and performed their duties as assigned,” AFGE National President John Gage. “AFGE is proud of both TSOs and wish them both a speedy recovery.”

AFGE has heard from one of the TSOs involved that both were released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, but without knowing what they were exposed to. Media reports indicate that the substance was honey, but the TSOs have not been given that information.

“We are concerned for both officers and are glad they seem to be in good health following this incident,” AFGE Local 1234 President Cris Soulia said. “AFGE applauds these officers for doing their duty, and for the other TSOs at the airport who went right back to work after the incident.”

There are 19 TSOs at Meadows Field, 12 of whom are AFGE members.

“These are unionized TSOs who never for one moment hesitated to put themselves at risk for the safety of the American people,” Gage said. “AFGE, for one, applauds the efforts of these and every TSO across the country.”

AFGE has represented the TSA workforce since the agency was created in 2001. The union currently has approximately 12,000 dues-paying TSA members at more than 100 airports in 36 union Locals nationwide.

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