What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Public Employees : S. 4 Legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission/ Collins amendment to provide limited workforce protections and authorize a federal study of whether airport security screeners should have collective bargaining rights/On agreeing to the amendment
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S. 4 Legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission/ Collins amendment to provide limited workforce protections and authorize a federal study of whether airport security screeners should have collective bargaining rights/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 65     Mar 07, 2007
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote dealt with an amendment proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would have given airport security screeners more workforce protections than they are afforded under current law but would have stopped short of giving them the collective bargaining rights outlined in the underlying legislation that Collins was trying to attach this amendment to. The bill Collins was seeking to amend was a measure to implement the unfinished recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Under current law, TSA screeners are not afforded any collective bargaining rights, which are available to most other federal workers. Language in the overall bill, drafted by Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), would have given employees of the Transportation Security Administration collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) drew up an alternative measure, adopted by the Senate in the form of an amendment, that would give TSA workers more limited union rights. Collins' amendment was effectively offering an alternative more restrictive to workers ability to unionize than Lieberman's or McCaskill's proposals. Her amendment would have given screeners additional workforce protections but require a year-long federal study as to whether they should be granted collective bargaining rights. Collins is the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. She and Lieberman rarely part ways publicly on matters directly related to the panel's business, and this was a rare split. Under Collins' amendment, screeners would have been able to take workplace complaints to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Like McCaskill and Lieberman's language, it would have given screeners whistleblower protections. Instead of giving TSA workers union rights, Collins' language would have required that TSA and the Government Accountability each submit a report within one year on giving screeners collective bargaining rights. The White House has threatened to veto any legislation that includes collective bargaining rights for TSA workers. Collin's sought support for her version as a compromise that was sufficient to avoid a presidential veto. The House-passed version of the bill also allows collective bargaining rights for TSA screeners. Senators voted 53-46 against Collin's amendment, thereby leaving intact the collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections granted to federal airport security screeners offered by the McCaskill amendment. All of the Democrats present voted against the amendment, and all of the Republicans except Sens. Arlene Specter (Pa.) and Jim Bunning (Ky.) voted with Collins. The bill implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission thus avoided a Republican-backed attempt to put off union rights for TSA employees for at least a year.

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