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"House Chairman Doubts Veto on TSA Unionization"



Tuesay, March 20, 2007

House Chairman Doubts Veto on TSA Unionization
By Angie C. Marek
U.S.News & World Report


Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is
pushing for a clause in a House 9/11 Commission bill that would offer full
collective bargaining rights and whistleblower rights to the roughly 43,000
federal airport screeners with the Transportation Security Administration.

The Senate, led by first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill, passed a compromise
measure that allows such union rights to be suspended during times of
emergency. President Bush has said he will veto the entire bill-a signature
effort for the Democrats during the election-if either unionization measure
remains. 

"I don't know of a single instance where a labor issue has prevented law
enforcement and security personnel at the federal level from doing their job
to protect the American people," Thompson said in an interview with U.S.
News, explaining his opposition to the McCaskill compromise.

"If an emergency happens, they will come to the aid of this country. On 9/11
there were more union police officers and firefighters killed than any other
group." He called the amendment "an effort to strike out at organized
labor."

He also expressed at least tepid optimism that the president would back down
from his veto threat. The tussle between the White House and Democrats
mirrors a similar disagreement over labor rights that occurred during the
start-up of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

"I would hope that the president would look at the realities of the threat
we're facing and not play anti-union politics at the expense of making
progress against major U.S. vulnerabilities," Thompson said. "If he vetoes
[the bill], I think he'll create all sorts of complaints from the American
people, who spoke during these elections. I'm hoping he sees the light." The
date has not yet been set for a conference on the measure.

Bush has used his veto power just once during his presidency.

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