May 18, 2005
Emily Ryan
Jemarion Jones
(202) 639-6419

Keep Federal Screeners and Strengthen TSA, Says AFGE

Union joined by transportation groups in fight for a secure America

(Washington)—Calling recent criticism of federal screeners unfair and unjustified, the American Federation of Government Employees today called on Congress to pass the Safe Aviation by Empowering Federal Employees (SAEFE) Act, which would strengthen TSA and would ensure a high-quality, professional, stable workforce of federal aviation screeners. The SAEFE Act is detailed in AFGE’s recently-commissioned white paper which, among other issues, includes findings on the dangers of opting out and lack of screener rights. AFGE is the largest federal employee union, and represents federal screeners across the country.

“Congress created TSA recognizing that only a highly-trained, well-paid, fully-empowered professional public workforce can provide the protection the American people need and expect. Now TSA is under attack and faces an uncertain future. Federal screeners—the men and women who put their lives at risk every day—are faced with the possibility that their jobs will be turned over to the private sector,” AFGE National President John Gage said.

“Public employees who know how to do their jobs and who are empowered to do them through enlightened management and collective bargaining are the key to keeping hijackers and bombs off of airplanes,” he added. “This isn’t just AFGE trying to help people keep their jobs. This is a matter of national security.”

Federal airport screeners Justin Rooney (Buffalo-Niagara International Airport) and Kim Kraynak (Pittsburgh International Airport) offered first-hand accounts of the difficulties faced by screeners, including the need for better training and for collective bargaining rights.

“[Screeners would be able to perform to the best of their ability if] TSA would give us collective bargaining rights, treat us with respect, and give us the same protections that every other federal worker in America has,” Rooney said.

Kraynak specifically spoke of potential screener cuts in Pittsburgh. “TSA wants to cut one-fifth of our workforce, which would be devastating to our ability to provide the utmost security.”

Also speaking at the event were Professional Airways Systems Specialists National President Tom Brantley and National Aviation Disaster Alliance/Foundation Vice President Cindy Sterle.

“Since 9-11, federal screeners have proven themselves time and time again, and Americans recognize this,” Gage said. “A recent Zogby poll found that the public prefers federal screeners over private screeners by a two-to-one margin. Airports also recognize the importance of keeping screeners federalized. When given the option to opt-out of the public system, only two local airports have chosen to do so, one of which now is reconsidering its choice. Returning to the system and screeners that allowed 9-11 to happen could be a serious, if not deadly mistake.”

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