(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), today issued the following statement in response to last night’s action by the House on airport security:
“Every single American who flies or who hopes to fly suffered a serious defeat last night when the House of Representatives, by a very narrow margin of 218 to 214, rejected an opportunity to safeguard the skies by ensuring that the important work of screening passengers at the nation’s major airports is performed by reliable and experienced federal employees.
“It is shameful that the House Republican leadership decided to politicize a clear public safety issue. The Senate, by a rare vote of 100-0, has already determined that it would be dangerous and foolhardy to prop up the current, failed system of lowest-bidder private contractor screening. Those lawmakers understand that the public interest of safe air travel must take precedence over continuing to subsidize the profits of largely foreign-owned, rent-a-cop companies that have a proven record of failure.
“However, the House Republican leadership, which waged a shameful campaign of disinformation against federal employees and their unions, and Bush Administration officials, who promised to shower pork-barrel roads and water projects on lawmakers who would oppose federalization, decided to play politics. Even when recommended by experts, dictated by safety concerns, and supported by the public, they opposed entrusting an important government responsibility to dedicated civil servants. Political contributions took precedence over public safety.
“AFGE appreciates the support of the 214 Republican and Democratic House lawmakers who supported the bipartisan Oberstar-Ganske measure to federalize airport screening. Given the unanimous vote in favor of federalization in the Senate and the very narrow loss in the House, the upcoming House-Senate conference on aviation security legislation will allow for the broad labor coalition in support of full federalization—including the Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Flight Attendants, the National Treasury Employees Union, the United Auto Workers, the International Association of Machinists, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees—to continue to fight to secure safe skies for the nation’s air travelers.”