7:04 PM EDT, July 18, 2010
Security officers for the Transportation Safety Administration announced Sunday that they have moved closer to officially becoming unionized.
At a news conference at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, TSA officer Glen Cook said overtime and evaluation issues were their pressing concerns.
"We want better treatment and a more honest evaluation system," he said.
The American Federation of Government Employees has unofficially represented TSA workers nationwide for the past seven years. During that time, it has campaigned to be the official union for TSA officers, said spokesman Ryan Hampton, of the organization's national office in Washington, D.C.
"Right now we can help them in providing legal assistance but we can't have a seat at the table with TSA to negotiate contracts," Hampton said.
The federation represents more than 600,000 government employees in various agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. Last month, President Barack Obama announced that John Pistole, the former deputy FBI director, would lead the TSA.
Pistole said TSA officers would be given full rights to collectively bargain. Officers would be able to vote on whom they want to represent them. The vote should take place in the next few months.
"We want better treatment overall for the workforce," said Makeda McLune, national organizer for the federation's local South Florida affiliate. "Now we are seeing that things are starting to move forward."