(WASHINGTON, D.C.)--"It is clearly not in the interest of any American who values her or his freedom to fly to undermine the federal government's ability to recruit and retain the best airport screeners by making them second class federal employees," states Mark Roth, General Counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Roth's testimony before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs dealing with aviation security will take place: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001 at 2 p.m. in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
"AFGE looks forward to working with the Administration to ensure that federal employee screeners are treated equitably vis-à-vis other federal employees with respect to pay, health and life insurance, retirement benefits, workers compensation, equal employment opportunity rights, rights to organize and be represented by unions, and whistleblower protections so screeners can report security conditions without fear of reprisal," Roth adds. "This will ensure that the 'lowest bid' mentality that so degraded contractor airport screening would not be repeated after federalization of the function."
"The rights to organize and bargain collectively would not weaken or impede in the slightest the government's ability to fire federal employee airport screeners," Roth states. He emphasizes that anyone who is not performing or undermines the new security mission can be reassigned from the front lines immediately, without cause, as a management prerogative. And during the one-year probationary period, a federal employee may be fired for virtually any reason with no notice and no appeal rights.
"There is no plausible rationale for denying federal employee screeners the rights to organize and bargain collectively or to treat them differently from their federal sector brothers and sisters," Roth says. He points to the tens of thousands of other federal employees AFGE proudly represents, including law enforcement officers, employees at the Immigration and Naturalization Service and fire fighters, as well as unionized private sector colleagues such as aircraft machinists and mechanics, baggage handlers, air traffic controllers, flight attendants and pilots.
"AFGE urges Congress to revisit the issue of whether the Department of Transportation should be required to provide federal employee airport screeners with the same compensation packages and job protections as other federal employees," Roth concludes. "The absence of such comparability can be deleterious to work force morale and send exactly the wrong signal about the importance of airport screening."