Change is on the way as President Obama has pledged to restore dignity to the TSA workplace. When collective bargaining rights are permitted for TSA workers AFGE stands alone as the voice of the TSA workforce. Speaking at the recent AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh, newly-elected AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka singled out AFGE’s campaign to win workplace rights for TSA employees, saying AFGE has the backing of the AFL-CIO and its 11.5 million members in the union’s effort to organize TSA employees.
“Right now, 40,000 TSA employees are on the verge of winning their collective bargaining rights. Our sisters and brothers in AFGE are going to organize them, and . . . I want you to know that the AFL-CIO will stand with them until every last one of those TSA employees are organized,” Trumka said.
“Unlike stand-alone unions, AFGE enjoys the AFL-CIO’s enormous political clout on Capitol Hill and across the country,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “Being a part of the AFL-CIO is being a part of the rich and proud history of the U.S. labor movement—an institution that is critical to our country and its middle class.” AFGE has been affiliated with the AFL-CIO since it was founded in 1932, and has received more than a half million dollars in organizing grant money from the labor giant over the course of the of its eight year campaign.
So called independent unions refuse to abide by the rules traditionally observed by members of the House of Labor the AFL-CIO. These entities are often lone wolves seeking to organize workers on their terms. As such they stand outside the labor mainstream and are less effective representing their members.
Earlier this year, the Association of Flight Attendants issued a letter to TSA employees, showing its support for TSA bargaining rights and endorsing AFGE as the representative for those workers. AFGE received similar backing from the United Mine Workers of America, American Postal Workers Union Locals 247 and 1462, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Central Florida Chapter, A. Philip Randolph Institute Central Florida Chapter, Colorado Springs Area Labor Council, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and many more.
Gage met with AFL-CIO State and Central Labor Body presidents during the AFL-CIO convention to coordinate their support in the coming election of unions to represent TSA employees. AFGE TSA Local 332 (Pittsburgh) Women’s Coordinator Shawn Williams also addressed the AFL-CIO convention, stating that “AFGE secured a promise from President Obama to ensure collective bargaining rights would be granted at TSA, and we will not rest until that happens.”
After her speech, Williams and Local 332 President Kim Kraynak met with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, where both shared their experiences as front line security officers. “There is no way we would have had the opportunity to address Secretary Solis directly were it not for our affiliation with AFGE and the AFL-CIO,” Williams said. “It was encouraging to see how well our issues were received and how much respect AFGE enjoys among the other unions.”
“AFGE’s TSO members are unquestionably the voice and face of the union at TSA, so it was wonderful for Shawn and Kim to speak directly with Secretary Solis,” Gage said.
“With more than 11,000 dues paying members at the agency, and some 40,000 in Border Patrol, CIS, ICE, Federal Protective Service, and FEMA in the Department of Homeland Security, there is little question as to AFGE’s role as THE union for TSA and DHS employees,” Gage added.