WASHINGTON, D.C.—AFGE National President John Gage today hailed the settlement reached in Federal Court on behalf of Pittsburgh International Airport screener Frederick C. Schwartz, who stood accused by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of engaging in union activity while on duty.
AFGE contended that the charge against Schwartz was false, and filed suit against Schwartz’s accuser and TSA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The settlement compels Pittsburgh’s TSA managers to take a class on TSA’s union organizing policy, and to inform screeners of their union rights.
“TSA initially refused to resolve this matter outside the legal system, leaving us no choice but to take it to court,” Gage asserted. “If only screeners were granted the full union representation that is their constitutional right, this matter could have been dealt with at far less cost to the taxpayer through standard grievance procedures.”
Every month, more screeners join AFGE Local 1 despite a directive from TSA that forbids union representation for purposes of collective bargaining. AFGE continues to organize TSA screeners, representing them in the courts of law and public opinion.
Last year, Fred Schwartz’s screening supervisor chided her workers for milling about for a few minutes after they had been dismissed for the day at the conclusion of an end-of-shift briefing. “What part of ‘You’re dismissed’ don’t you understand?” the supervisor asked. As the screeners began to disperse, Schwartz piped up with: “Anybody who wants union information, let me know.” Regardless of the fact that his shift had ended and he had been dismissed, Schwartz was disciplined for conducting union business during his working hours.
Details of the settlement include the following terms agreed to by TSA: ? TSA management will not retaliate against Mr. Schwartz in any way for his union activities. ? TSA will remove the written discipline from Mr. Schwartz’s official personnel files. ? TSA will inform all Pittsburgh screeners of their right to engage in union activities while off-duty. ? TSA management from Pittsburgh will be required to attend a class on TSA’s policy on union organizing activity.
“This settlement vindicates those TSA screeners who have told of being targeted for their union activities,” Gage continued, “and gives hope to the countless union members in the federal workforce who find themselves besieged by an Administration set on disempowering those employees who most directly serve the public in the service of national security.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.