[JURIST] The White House said Tuesday that President Bush will veto a new anti-terror bill [S.4 summary] if it contains a provision which would allow Transportation Security Administration airport screeners to unionize. While other federal employees already have similar union abilities, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] said that allowing screeners to do so is against the best interest of the country. Likening the screeners to Marines in Iraq, Chertoff told reporters that "we can't negotiate over terms and conditions of work that goes to the heart of our ability to move rapidly in order to deal with the threats that are emerging." The American Federation of Government Employees [union website] called such reasoning "an insult to the hundreds of thousands of dedicated public safety officers with collective bargaining rights - from border patrol agents to firefighters to the Capitol Hill police." Congressional Republicans have already vowed that if Bush vetoes the bill, they will not allow a congressional override, which would require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.
Beyond tightening anti-terror controls and the labor talks, the bill also includes provisions designed to enhance intelligence sharing between state and federal government agencies, and would provide additional visa waivers for favored countries. AP has more.