Transportation Security Administration employees could have union representation as early as April.
In a consent meeting held on Friday, the Federal Labor Relations Authority tentatively set the TSA union election to begin March 9. The American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union have been vying for exclusive representation of 40,000 TSA employees.
Balloting is tentatively scheduled to run until April 19 and will be conducted online and via phone. FLRA, which oversees federal labor-management relations, will count the votes on April 20. Final dates will be determined once TSA receives final language describing the bargaining units, according to AFGE Membership and Organization Deputy Director Cathie McQuiston.
"The FLRA has moved expeditiously throughout this entire process and we are hopeful they will continue to do so," AFGE National President John Gage said. "Barring any unforeseen delays, we believe voting will begin by mid-March."
FLRA in November 2010 accepted petitions from AFGE and NTEU to hold an election to determine which group will represent TSA workers. The decision reversed an FLRA regional official's previous denial of petitions from both unions.
"This important election, together with the much-anticipated grant of collective bargaining rights, will mark the start of a new and exciting chapter for TSA employees, their agency and the traveling public," NTEU President Colleen Kelley said.
TSA Administrator John Pistole has yet to determine whether employees will have collective bargaining privileges. Created in 2001, TSA was excluded from federal regulations giving workers collective bargaining rights. Agency leaders have the authority to grant those rights but have chosen not to act on the issue.
"Collective bargaining is the single most meaningful way employee voices can be heard on all manner of workplace issues," Kelley said. "These deserving employees have been without it for far too long."