Employees of the Transportation Security Administration have made their choice as to which labor organization should be their sole representative in collective bargaining.
TSA workers participated in a runoff election that pitted the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) against the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). The Federal Labor Relations Authority on Thursday certified the AFGE as the winner by a narrow margin.
NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement that her organization will review the election results carefully, but it is unlikely to contest them. She said she was proud of her union’s efforts to pressure the federal government to allow collective bargaining at TSA, where the practice was banned until this year.
AFGE National President John Gage said his union will move to forge a collective bargaining contract that recognizes the different concerns of transportation security officers working at large and small airports.
“We are obviously thrilled with the election results, but more importantly are delighted that the transportation security officers now will have the full union representation they rightly deserve,” he said.
John L. Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, could have not viewed the election results more differently. A staunch opponent of collective bargaining for TSA workers, he described the vote as a political victory for big labor and the Obama administration that will not improve TSA workplace issues.
“While collective bargaining for airport screeners may sound like a solution to a dysfunctional workplace, only a dramatic overhaul of TSA will provide a proper structure for improved employment conditions, employee respect, and the best possible security operations,” he said in a statement.
The House Homeland Security Committee’s ranking Democrat, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, defended the election from GOP criticism, noting that Customs and Border Protection workers and other DHS employees have the ability to bargain collectively.
“I am proud that our transportation security officers are one step closer to be on equal footing with other homeland security workers that have collective bargaining rights, including those at CBP,” he said. “This is not a time for those to use the ‘union panic’ defense to further their privatization and TSA budget-cutting agenda. . . . Nothing impacting security operations is on the table for collective bargaining.”