Orlando TSOs Stop Screening Privatization Attempt in Its Tracks

After over 18 months of tireless efforts to push back against unnecessary security privatization, AFGE Local 556 members at Orlando Airport have finally seen the fruits of their labor. The Greater Orlando Airport Authority (GOAA) recently chose to maintain federal security screeners at the airport checkpoints rather than hiring private, for-profit contractors.

TSA officers have done an outstanding job protecting the flying public in Orlando and around the country. Close to 98,000 passengers travel through Orlando International Airport every day, and over 35 million do so annually. TSA’s record of excellence in securing the safe operation of Orlando International Airport for over 13 years speaks for itself.

AFGE is concerned, however, about the new series of screening standards recommended to the Airport Authority by GOAA’s TSA Committee in its announcement. Congress created TSA to achieve a high standard of security for all U.S. airports. Now, it is suggested that GOAA create its own standards for security screening, which put a premium on speed over diligence.

We are urging TSA to take all necessary steps to ensure that staffing levels are sufficient and all checkpoint lanes are open. Our TSOs can meet any standard that is set for them as long as they are not set up to fail by short staffing and restricted checkpoint operations. AFGE believes federal TSA officers are committed to providing security that is fully integrated into TSA operations.

Detroit TSA Officers Demand Stronger Security Measures for Officers

TSA officers at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport staged a protest on April 1 demanding new security measures to protect passengers and employees in airport security screening areas in light of increased threats.

AFGE is calling for a new unit of armed law enforcement officers within TSA to protect checkpoints in the aftermath of the recent New Orleans Airport attack and the tragic 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

“We come to work every day to protect our skies and keep our country safe from individuals who want to inflict harm on the flying public,” said AFGE Local 778 President Vaughn Glenn. “Now the TSOs themselves are becoming targets of violence, and we need to be prepared before the next tragedy strikes.”

More than 30 TSOs were joined by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI), AFGE 7th District National Vice President Dorothy James, AFGE TSA Council 100 President Hydrick Thomas, AFGE TSA Council 100 Executive Vice President Alan Jackimowicz, and Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift.

“It is clear additional measures are needed to protect screening areas, passengers and the brave individuals who are on the front lines of protecting our skies and preventing another 9/11,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “It should not take another tragedy to spur us to action. I will work with other members across the aisle to see how we can support these workers and their needs.”

Pregnant TSO Reinstated After Wrongful Firing

This should have been the happiest time in Amanda Kincannon’s life. Amanda, a 32-year-old transportation security officer in Detroit, learned last fall that she’s expecting her first child this month. But instead of shopping for baby clothes and preparing a nursery, Amanda has spent the past few months filing for unemployment and preparing court documents.

That’s because TSA fired Amanda in February, stating that her pregnancy “adversely impacts safe and effective performance of job tasks.”

TSA first proposed Amanda’s removal in August, stating that her years of struggles with endometriosis made her medically disqualified for her TSO job. Amanda had been experiencing chronic pelvic pain due to her illness and even had surgery to alleviate some of the pain. But instead of working with Amanda, a 10-year veteran of the agency, to accommodate her condition, TSA decided to fire her.

Then Amanda discovered she was pregnant. The pregnancy should have saved her job, since her endometriosis went into remission. Instead, TSA ruled that her pregnancy itself made her unfit for duty.

“Now that I’m pregnant, they don’t want me to come back to work,” Amanda said after her termination.

AFGE stepped in and fought to protect Amanda’s job, filing an appeal with TSA’s internal review board. Just this week, Amanda got the news that the board had overturned her removal, determining that TSA violated her right to due process by failing to provide her with all of the documentation used to remove her.

The win is great news for Amanda, who will welcome her baby at the end of April. But other officers still remain at risk.

As unbelievable as it may seem, TSA believes it is legally allowed to fire pregnant workers since the agency doesn’t have to abide by workforce rules followed by most public- and private-sector employers. Until that changes, more employees like Amanda will remain in jeopardy. 

AFGE knows TSA is wrong. It is illegal to discriminate against an employee because she is pregnant. 

All TSA employees should become union members and join the fight to change the unfair working conditions – like firing pregnant women – that exist at TSA.


--From AFGE's TSA Voice, April 8, 2015