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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

IN airport security contract boosts workplace rights

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Thursday, May 30, 2024   

The power of unions in America is growing as members are less hesitant to strike for fair workplace policies and livable wages.

One union's collective bargaining process led to the creation of a historic seven-year contract in Indiana. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 618 represents transportation security officers at five Indiana airports.

Kevin Smith, president of Local 618, said the contract boosted the rules of operation from 15 to 37.

"The biggest factor behind this new contract was basically the need for better rights and protections for all of our officers," Smith explained. "Our last contract was very limited to what we couldn't negotiate and it placed a lot of things in the hands of the agency that wasn't always in the officers' best interests."

The revised contract terms outline protection from unfair discipline, new uniform rights, better leave conditions and bargaining input for local issues, among other things. The union represents officers at airports in Indianapolis, South Bend, Evansville, and Fort Wayne. Lafayette's airport recently completed the process for using federal agents at security checkpoints and baggage sites, and for workforce screening.

In August 1981, thousands of air traffic controllers illegally walked off the job over wage disputes and working conditions. President Ronald Reagan fired the protesters and replacements were brought in. And although it is against the law for transportation security officers to strike, Smith noted the union is eyeing action to give their members the same rights as other federal workers.

"We have gotten what we called mirrored Title Five rights," Smith pointed out. "But we are nowhere near close to having the same rights as the rest of the federal government workers and different agencies have. So that will be our next fight to try to get that happening. "

House Resolution 8370, or "Rights for the TSA Workplace Act" was reintroduced this month with the endorsement of American Federation of Government Employees TSA Council 100 President Hydrick Thomas. The measure was drafted to make officers' rights a law and to ensure it can't be changed by future administrations.

Disclosure: The American Federation of Government Employees contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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