TSA union takes credit for reducing Hawaii airport employee penalties

The employees in question were accused by the TSA of failing to check luggage for explosive devices in 2010.

The agency, which first recommended the firings in June, said then it conducted an "extensive investigation" into the incidents.

Some Republicans in the House, who have pushed to privatize airport security, called at the time for an investigation into the firings.

Forty-eight employees at the Honolulu were involved in the investigation, but TSA said Monday that three had resigned or retired. 

The AFGE union was elected by TSA employees in June to represent them, winning the right to collectively bargain the agency over the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).

The union said late Monday afternoon that TSA original targeted at least 36 employees for fiiring.

"TSA didn’t just change its mind on the other officers who got less than termination," AFGE General Counsel David Borer said in a statement provided to The Hill. "Our union, AFGE, won a reduction in the severity of the discipline for several of the officers originally charged. It’s unusual for any proposed discipline to be reduced at that stage."

Borer said the union is the process of appealing "virtually all those cases.

"Appeals have either already been filed, or will be filed, on behalf of the officers," he said. "They are all represented by AFGE except for one or two officers who sought private counsel.

"AFGE will vigorously pursue these appeals and we still maintain that any problems with processing bags at HNL were problems caused by poor management," Borer continued.

Borer said the problems at the Honolulu airport that resulted in the TSA investigation was not the fault of the frontline workers at the facility.

"The top TSA management officials at HNL were fired or reassigned as a result of the investigation, so their management practices have already been found at fault by the agency," he said. "These officers were following orders and were conducting bag screening in a manner that was known and even encouraged by TSA management. Individual officers should not be made scapegoats for a breakdown in management."

This post was updated with new information at 7:22 p.m.