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March 15, 2011

AFGE’s Representation Leads to Reinstatement of Los Angeles TSO: With the assistance of an AFGE attorney, a TSO at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is able to return to work after being improperly removed from her position for allegedly failing to follow time and attendance procedures and lack of candor.  AFGE argued that the charge was not supported by the evidence because the only evidence against the officer was an anonymous letter accusing the TSO of being routinely late to work.  After the author of the anonymous letter was identified, it was determined that his work schedule and duties would not have allowed him to consistently observe the TSO or know when she arrived for work. AFGE also argued that there were other inconsistencies in the letter, bringing into question the reliability of the statement.  The DRB agreed with AFGE, finding that there was no convincing evidence against the TSO. The appeal was granted in full and the TSO can now return to her former position with over three months of back pay.  The TSO is very excited to be returning to her job with a clean record.

“Like a lot of the TSOs, I thought I’m not going to need the union because I'm not going to get in trouble. I never thought this would happen to me. Now I understand,” said TSO Dawniella Boyd. “When I got the call that AFGE had won my case, I felt relief. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. A big thank you! That's all I can say.”

Huffington Post Takes Down Misleading Photo: The Huffington Post last week took down a misleading photo that accompanied an article about two TSA employees who admitted to committing theft after AFGE’s General Counsel Office demanded that the photo be removed as the photographed TSO was not one of the employees named in the headline and had nothing to do with the theft. The TSO was furious that his photo taken on Feb. 24, 2011 in front of the Advanced Imaging Technology machine had been used inappropriately.

“The picture had no caption, which led the reader to believe that I was one of the TSOs involved,” said LaGuardia TSO James Ruiz. “I contacted Jesus from AFGE for help and within minutes, he jumped into action. He contacted the AFGE legal team and they contacted the Huffington Post and requested my pictures be removed immediately. My picture was removed thanks to the AFGE team.”

AFGE Calls for Comprehensive Radiation Exposure Study: AFGE this week reiterates our concerns over TSOs being exposed to radiation after TSA found errors in maintenance inspection reports for its full-body x-ray scanners. TSA last Friday announced that it will retest every one of its 247 full-boy X-ray scanners at 38 airports after maintenance records on some of the devices showed that x-ray machines emit ionizing radiation 10 times higher than previously reported. TSA said the records simply reflect math mistakes by contractors who inspect the machines. While lawmakers are voicing concerns over TSA’s ability to oversee the scanners, AFGE once again calls on TSA to conduct a nationwide radiation exposure study to address TSO concerns and allow them to focus on their security duties.

“If these tests are problematic, the assurances TSA sticks by on the employee exposure issue don’t hold up,” said AFGE President John Gage. “We need a nationwide, comprehensive radiation exposure study done by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, not the contractors.”

AFGE last year urged all TSOs to file with TSA a CA-2 workers’ compensation claim to document their exposure to ionizing radiation after AFGE received numerous reports from employees alarmed by what appeared to be a large number of TSOs being diagnosed with cancer and thyroid conditions. Maintaining that the machines were safe, TSA repeatedly denied AFGE’s requests for dosimeters – devices that measure the employees’ exposure to radiation. When AFGE offered to purchase dosimeters for TSOs, TSA told the employees they could not wear the devices that are not issued by TSA. In a testimony before Congress last year, AFGE called for a radiation safety and monitoring program at TSA. So far, it has never been implemented.
AFGE also conducted our first radiation training in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in December last year to address the concerns raised by TSOs who believe they have been exposed to radiation on the job. We developed our own because TSA's current radiation training is inadequate. AFGE wants to see TSA's training beefed up as the agency fully addresses employees' concerns.

For more information about AFGE representation, go to www.tsaunion.net or call AFGE TSA Hotline at (866) 392-6832. American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO 80 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001 | Tel. (202) 737-8700 | Fax (202) 639-6492 | www.afge.org