(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), issued the following statement today regarding Congress’ compromise on airport security:
“AFGE congratulates the conferees to the aviation security conference for their decision to safeguard Americans’ freedom to fly by ensuring that airport screening is performed by reliable and experienced federal employees.
“At the same time, we are both alarmed and disappointed by the failure of the conference report to ensure that federal employee screeners have the same rights as other federal employees. In fact, the conference report would leave all significant issues of employment for federal employee screeners entirely at the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DoT).
“There is no plausible justification for denying federal employee screeners the rights and benefits afforded to other federal employees, such as health insurance, life insurance, retirement benefits, workers’ compensation, veterans preference, equal employment opportunity rights, rights to organize collectively and be represented by unions, and whistleblower protections.
“Union representation rights and whistleblower protections are necessary to ensure that federal employee screeners will not suffer retribution for alerting the public to lapses in safety.
“Providing federal employee screeners with such rights and protections would not in any way weaken or reduce the additional discretion provided under the conference report to the Secretary of Transportation to dismiss federal employee screeners who fail to perform satisfactorily. However, it would ensure that federal employee screeners are not unnecessarily and unfairly consigned to second-class status.
“AFGE will work with Republican and Democratic lawmakers to correct this serious problem. Given the importance of their work, it is imperative that federal employee screeners be treated just like all other federal employees.”