The Federal Labor Relations Authority on Friday accepted a petition from the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union to hold an election to determine which group will represent TSA workers. Petitions filed by AFGE and NTEU earlier this year were denied by an FLRA regional official, but Friday's decision reverses that ruling. Both unions have been vying for exclusive representation of 40,000 TSA employees. FLRA will set the timeline for the election, count the votes and certify the results.
AFGE National President John Gage praised the decision, arguing Transportation Security officers have waited too long for union representation.
"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 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."
According to NTEU President Colleen Kelley, the election is an important step toward collective bargaining rights for TSA employees. TSA Administrator John Pistole still has yet to determine whether employees will have collective bargaining privileges, but union leaders are optimistic a comprehensive review will lead him to that conclusion.
"The action by the FLRA in ordering an election in TSA sharply underscores the critical need for an administrative directive immediately granting much-needed and long-delayed collective bargaining rights in TSA," said Kelley.
Created in 2001, TSA was excluded from federal regulations granting workers collective bargaining rights. TSA administrators have the authority to grant those rights but have chosen not to act on the issue.