(Washington, D.C.)-Seeking to supplement its complaint with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has asked the court to consider an additional count to its original suit filed Jan. 10, 2003, to reinstate James Ferace.
An airport screener working for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Pittsburgh International Airport, Ferace is a charter member of AFGE TSA Local 1 and a plaintiff in AFGE's lawsuit. He was terminated on July 10-exactly six months after the union's suit was filed.
"TSA has been gunning for Ferace ever since his name was included as a plaintiff in AFGE's lawsuit," said AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage, Sr. "They can come up with all the trumped up charges they want, but it's obvious the reason this dedicated employee was fired is because he has been an active advocate for union representation among TSA screeners at the Pittsburgh Airport."
In its amended suit, AFGE will ask the court to find that TSA violated the U.S. Constitution when it fired Ferace for his union activities. The union will ask the court to reinstate Ferace with back pay and interest.
TSA tried to discipline Ferace following the filing of AFGE's original complaint with the court. Intervention, however, by top union officials halted the proposed disciplinary action.
On July 8-one day after the Federal Labor Relations Authority's (FLRA) regional office refused to accept jurisdiction over the union's representation petitions-TSA attorneys filed a copy of the Authority's decision with the court to emphasize their position that Loy's directive is legal. It is no coincidence that the same day TSA terminated Ferace on frivolous charges for an incident that occurred two months earlier.
In May, Ferace came across a document in clear view that was left at his check point by a supervisor which contained the names of screeners at the airport. Next to each name was a handwritten comment regarding each employee's work performance. Two months later management terminated Ferace for reading the carelessly discarded document.
"It's clear that because of the FLRA's ruling TSA now believes it has free rein to retaliate against AFGE activists," added Harnage. "Instead of working against us, TSA should be seeking our help in working together with passenger and baggage screeners to provide the very best security for the American people."
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.