A vote to unionize workers at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is heading to a runoff, and both unions competing to represent the employees are predicting victory.
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said Wednesday it received "a significant number of votes" during the six-week election period that ended on Tuesday. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said it received "the most votes but not a majority."
Because neither union won 50 percent plus one of the votes cast, another election will likely be held in July.
“I’m confident that when the runoff election is conducted, TSA Officers will decide that NTEU is best positioned — by skill, expertise, structure and the respect it has rightly earned from everyone it deals with — to address both the big-picture and day-to-day workplace issues they face as a key part of the federal workforce,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in a statement.
Kelley said the NTEU would continue campaigning aggressively for unionization, emphasizing its representation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees, who sometimes work in airports.
“NTEU is widely known and highly-respected for having the best on-the-ground representation and negotiating the best contracts in the federal sector,” she said.
But AFGE National President John Gage disagreed, saying his union would emerge victorious.
"While AFGE is disappointed that we can’t begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement right away, we are confident that TSOs [transportation security officers] will once and for all vote for AFGE in a runoff election," Gage said.
Both union leaders praised TSA workers for voting to unionize.
"During a time when this country’s federal workers and their unions are under attack, it speaks volumes that Transportation Security Officers nationwide stood strong and voted to have a union," Gage said. "By voting for a voice at work, TSOs have demonstrated that when American workers are given a choice — without intensive intimidation campaigns — they want a union."
“It is a message to employees about how best to improve and protect their future,” Kelley said.