Runoff required to select TSA screeners’ exclusive national union

By: Jacob Goodwin

With less than half of eligible voters actually casting their ballots, TSA’s roughly 43,000 screeners have decided they want to be represented exclusively by a national union, but they have not yet officially chosen which one.

After six weeks of voting by telephone and Internet, the election results announced on March 20 by the Federal Labor Relations Authority were as follows: 8,369 votes for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents 43 percent of the votes actually cast; 8,095 votes for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which is 41 percent of the votes cast; and 3,111 votes for “No union,” which is 16 percent of the votes cast.

“Because none of the choices received a majority of the votes cast, a runoff election will be held in the next few weeks between AFGE and NTEU,” said a press release issued by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) on April 20.

For background on this union election, see GSN’s news article published on the Web on March 31.

Both union presidents expressed confidence that their union will ultimately prevail in the runoff election. “The parties will be meeting tomorrow morning [April 21] with the FLRA to work out the runoff election details,” said the FLRA’s news release.

AFGE National President John Gage issued the following statement on March 20:

“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. 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.

“AFGE thanks the TSOs who have supported us, as we stood by them for the past nine years. Together, with our TSO activists and the backing of the AFL-CIO’s 12 million members, AFGE looks forward to being elected the only union at TSA.”

NTEU President Colleen Kelley was equally confident.

“NTEU is prepared for a runoff and will continue its assertive nationwide campaign among TSA Officers,” she said on April 20.

“NTEU is widely known and highly-respected for having the best on-the-ground representation and negotiating the best contracts in the federal sector,” she added.

“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.”

Approximately 46 percent of eligible screeners actually voted in the election. It is not yet clear whether the runoff election, which pits one union against the other, will draw more or fewer votes.

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