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  Daily Briefing  
September 5, 2003

Judge sends TSA bargaining rights case back to labor board

By Tanya N. Ballard

The largest federal employee union has lost the latest battle in its war to win collective bargaining rights for Transportation Security Administration airport screeners.

On Friday, a federal district court judge dismissed a lawsuit lodged against the security agency by the American Federation of Government Employees. The union sought to overturn a decision by TSA Administrator James Loy, who blocked screeners from collective bargaining in January, saying that bargaining “is not compatible with the flexibility required to wage the war against terrorism.”

“It is reckless and capricious to deprive this small group of federal workers from being allowed to form a union and bargain collectively while allowing millions of others, also engaged in the fight against terrorism, to do so,” said AFGE President John Gage.

Union officials asked the Federal Labor Relations Authority to reverse Loy's decision, arguing that when Congress created the agency, it gave airport screeners rights similar to those of employees at the Federal Aviation Administration. Those rights include collective bargaining. In July, a regional FLRA chief ruled that Loy was legally able to restrict screener collective bargaining rights. AFGE then decided to take the fight to federal district court, but on Friday a judge dismissed the case and instructed AFGE to take its argument to the full FLRA.

“We're not going to abandon these employees,” Gage vowed Friday, following the court decision.

A TSA spokesman said officials there could not comment on pending litigation.

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