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Govt Defends Union Rights For Airport Screeners

WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the Transportation Security Administration says he'd be willing to fire any federal airport screeners who strike or otherwise violate the agency's new collective bargaining procedures.

TSA administrator John Pistole tells House lawmakers he would consider doing what President Ronald Reagan did in 1981 when he fired 11,000 air traffic controllers for an illegal strike.

Pistole made his remarks in response to questions from skeptical Republicans at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing Thursday. Pistole insists his decision to grant limited union rights to more than 40,000 screeners will not compromise security.

The new agreement specifically prohibits striking or bargaining over security procedures.

TSA employees will choose between two unions to represent them in an election that runs from March 9 to April 19.