In 2003, as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers at several airports were readying to vote on joining AFGE, the Bush administration, citing so-called “national security” concerns, terminated the screeners’ collective bargaining rights.
Today, after a nearly 10-year battle, AFGE and the TSA have reached their first-ever labor contract that covers the TSA’s 45,000 workers. Says AFGE President John Gage:
For 10 long years AFGE has fought hard so that Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) would have collective bargaining rights. We have often looked back and wondered why it was taking so long. Today we begin to look forward.
Over the decade-long fight, the Bush administration and congressional Republicans used veto threats, filibusters, holds on nominations and other maneuvers to block efforts to restore the workers’ bargaining rights.
In February 2011, TSA workers won their collective bargaining despite Republican efforts to block the move and in June, workers at more than 450 airports voted to join AFGE.
AFGE TSA Council 100 President Kim Kraynak-Lambert says:
TSOs come to work every day in the face of intense public and congressional scrutiny and to the best of their ability, protect this nation from terrorist attacks. Now we can look forward to new rights and new working conditions and a chance to form a true labor-management partnership.
The agreement that was reached at 3 a.m. this morning, says Gage, will “provide for increased uniformity on fair treatment and the other issues important to employees across the nation’s airports."
Both parties believe the agreement will also provide much needed schedule flexibility. Improvements in working conditions will also benefit both TSA and the officers by fostering a family-friendly workplace where the employees have greater job satisfaction and feel supported in performing their important security work.
The agreement includes a new dispute resolution process that will enhance fairness and due process for TSOs and includes an independent, third-party review that ensures transparency.
Workers will vote on the new contract later this summer.