US Seeks Full Payment For Airport Security Workers

March 16, 2006

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The US Labor Department on Wednesday said it had taken administrative steps to recover USD$7.1 million in back pay for more than 7,000 airport security employees who worked for St. Louis-based Huntleigh USA.

The Huntleigh employees, who were assigned to 39 airports across the country a few months after the September 11 attacks, were paid below the prevailing wages and benefits for their cities as the law requires, the department said.

"It is appalling that thousands of Americans who answered the call to become airport security personnel in the aftermath of the devastating attacks on 9/11, were not paid all the wages they were due," Labor Secretary Elaine Chaos said in a statement.

A Huntleigh spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.

The Labor Department said it filed a complaint asking an administrative law judge to order Huntleigh to pay back wages to 7,171 workers after the firm refused to make the payments.

Huntleigh was used as a contractor to provide airport security services for nearly all of 2002 until the creation of the Transportation Security Administration, which currently handles screening at all airports using federal employees.

Under the Service Contract Act, contractors who do more than USD$2,500 of business with the federal government must pay service workers no less than the prevailing wages and benefits in their areas.

(Reuters)