(Washington, D.C.)—AFGE has filed its opposition brief in response to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) request that the District Court dismiss the union’s lawsuit.
AFGE filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on January 10, 2003, charging that TSA Administrator James Loy did not have the authority under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act to prohibit screeners from organizing.
The union’s response brief, filed Friday, May 9, rebuts TSA’s assertions that Loy’s decision is not reviewable by the District Court and that AFGE’s complaint should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
“TSA officials do not have the authority to deprive workers of their right to join a labor union,” said AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage, Sr. “Its broad and highly questionable personnel authority certainly does not include taking away First Amendment rights.”
AFGE has filed 14 petitions with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to represent airport screeners at: Baltimore-Washington, LaGuardia, Pittsburgh International, Chicago Midway, Greensboro (N.C.), Harlingen (includes three small airports in south Texas—Harlingen, McAllen and Brownsville), John F. Kennedy, Orlando, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Charlotte, and Atlantic City (includes three small airports—Trenton, Atlantic City and Salsibury, Md.).
When the first petitions were filed, TSA warned the FLRA that it did not have jurisdiction over Loy and that any election order would not be enforceable. Now, adding new meaning to the term blatant hypocrisy (chutzpah), TSA is asking the Court to dismiss AFGE’s lawsuit because the issue is before the FLRA.
“In a ‘heads-we-win, tails-you-lose’ argument, TSA is telling the Court that it will honor the FLRA’s ruling only if it agrees with Admiral Loy,” Harnage noted.
On March 3, AFGE established a new nationwide Local for TSA employees with 13 charter members. “If airport screeners and baggage handlers are to keep our skies safe, working conditions must improve—and improve dramatically,” Harnage has repeatedly told reporters.
“TSA’s recent announcement to reduce the number of screeners protecting the American public raises serious security questions. Maintaining an adequate and stable workforce of screeners is essential to protecting our nation’s skies,” Harnage added.
AFGE is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 federal and D.C. workers. For a copy of AFGE’s brief and more information on federal screeners, log onto www.screenersunion.org.