After a hotly contested battle between the two largest federal unions — American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union — a union election by airport screeners failed to produce a clear winner.
As a result, a runoff election is expected to occur next month that will decide which union will represent the Transportation Security Administration's 43,000 screeners.
Neither the American Federation of Government Employees nor the National Treasury Employees Union received at least 50 percent of the vote, as required, in the election that concluded Tuesday. AFGE said 8,369 screeners voted for AFGE, 8,095 voted for NTEU, and 3,111 voted for no union. The runoff election will be between only AFGE and NTEU; voters will not be able to vote for no union.
Less than half of the 43,000 eligible screeners, or 19,575, cast votes in the election.
The date for the runoff election has not been set.
The unions' presidents both predicted they would win the runoff.
"During a time when this country's federal workers and their unions are under attack, it speaks volumes that transportation security officers nationwide stood strong and voted to have a union," AFGE National President John Gage said. "By voting for a voice at work, TSOs have demonstrated that when American workers are given a choice — without intensive intimidation campaigns — they want a union. While AFGE is disappointed that we can't begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement right away, we are confident that TSOs will once and for all vote for AFGE in a runoff election."
NTEU President Colleen Kelley said: "I'm confident that when the runoff election is conducted, TSA officers will decide that NTEU is best positioned — by skill, expertise, structure and the respect it has rightly earned from everyone it deals with — to address both the big picture and day-to-day workplace issues they face as a key part of the federal workforce."
The unions will soon meet with the Federal Labor Relations Authority to set the terms of the runoff.