In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administration staffers will be allowed to vote on union representation.
The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government's two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers.
"It is no secret that the morale of the TSO workforce is terrible as a result of favoritism, a lack of fair and respectful treatment from many managers, poor and unhealthy conditions in some airports, poor training and testing protocols and a poor pay system," said AFGE President John Gage. "The morale problems are documented by the government's own surveys. TSOs need a recognized union voice at work, and the important decision of the FLRA finally sets the process in motion to make that right a reality."
Even as the unions gear up their bidding to represent a large block of workers, labor leaders continue to press the administration to grant collective bargaining rights for the officers and to push legislation that also would do that.
"We will redouble our continuing efforts to win for TSA employees the right to bargain a contract before an election is concluded," said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. "That will be the best path to significant improvements in their work lives."
TSA employees have already joined both unions, but the workers do not have collective bargaining rights. The election, which Gage said may be held early next year, will allow the employees to decide which of the two labor organizations will be the employees' exclusive representative.
"We are ready for an election, and we expect to win it," Kelley said.
AFGE has made similar declarations.