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"'Lawmakers drop union provision for TSA screeners in 9/11 bill"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lawmakers drop union provision in 9/11 bill
By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers agreed on Monday to drop efforts to
extend union protection to about 45,000 federal airport security workers as
part of stalled legislation to guard against another September 11-type

As a result, Democrats and Republicans expressed hope the Senate and the
House of Representatives could now reach agreement on a final bill to send
to President George W. Bush to sign into law. Organized labor voiced
disappointment at the decision.
The overall legislation, passed by the Senate and House, would implement
many of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission created after the
September 11 attacks, and impose some new ones.

It would better enable state and local governments to share information with
federal authorities, upgrade communication systems and provide grants to
help high-risk areas.

Bush had threatened to veto the legislation because of a union provision,
which he said would curb flexibility at the U.S. Transportation Security
Administration and undermine traveler safety.

Labor unions, which helped Democrats win control of Congress last year,
disagreed and argued that airport screeners deserved the same union
protection enjoyed by many federal employees.

But backers could not clear procedural hurdles to get the legislation to a
House-Senate conference to iron out differences.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid received unanimous consent from
colleagues for such a conference after saying he and House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi agreed to drop the provision.

Bill Samuel, legislative director at the AFL-CIO, the country's largest
labor federation, voiced disappointment that the union provision was dropped
and blamed Republicans.

"These are fundamental rights that all workers should enjoy," Samuel said.
"They (Republicans) trumped this up to make it an issue that they think will
excite their base."

Samuel expressed hope that Democrats would find another way to provide union
protection to airport workers. But there was no immediate indication they
would do so.

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