TSA Agents Pick Union Representation

Published : Friday, 24 Jun 2011, 7:59 AM EDT

MYFOXNY.COM - Federal airport screeners across the United States are unionizing.

The American Federation of Government Employees won the right to represent more than 40,000 airport security screeners employed by the federal government, months after the Obama administration cleared the way for the workers to organize.

The screeners, who work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), chose the AFGE in a runoff vote against the National Treasury Employees Union by a margin of 8,903 to 8,447 votes. The vote began May 23 and ended Tuesday. In a previous vote tallied in April, neither of the two unions received the majority needed to win.

The vote came after TSA agreed in February to grant screeners limited collective bargaining rights for the first time since the agency was formed a decade ago.

The TSA workers will not be able to bargain over pay or security-related matters such as the deployment of personnel or equipment. They will also be banned from striking or engaging in work slowdowns. Allowable bargaining issues include performance evaluations or the bidding process for work shifts.

Airport screeners had been among the few federal workers without union rights.

The Obama administration's decision to grant the unionization rights drew fire from Republican lawmakers and praise from Democrats. Federal unions also applauded the move after years of trying to win bargaining rights for airport screeners hired in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Republican lawmakers have raised concerns that passenger safety would be compromised if union rules prevented the TSA from quickly reassigning staff to meet a security threat.

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