TSA’s screeners choose AFGE union to represent them

By: Jacob Goodwin

AFGE, led by
John Gage, left
defeated NTEU,
led by Colleen Kelley

The workforce of approximately 44,000 TSA security screeners has selected the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), rather than its rival, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), to represent it in collective bargaining talks with TSA, according to election results announced on June 23.

A run-off election was held by telephone and Internet since last April, after neither union won a majority of the votes cast in the initial round, because a third option – no union at all – won 16 percent of the votes. Both elections were supervised by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which issued the official results.

The turnout in both election rounds was low, with about 44 percent of eligible screeners voting in the first round, as reported by GSN. Even fewer, about 39 percent, voted in the second round.

The AFGE union appears to have won the squeaker of an election by picking up a slightly larger percentage of those screeners who had originally voted for “No Union” on the first ballot.

John Gage, the president of the AFGE, was quite content with the electoral outcome.

“We are obviously thrilled with the election results, but more importantly are delighted that the Transportation Security Officers now will have the full union representation they rightly deserve,” he said in a prepared statement issued on June 23.

“We recognize that TSOs in small airports have different concerns from those at large ones,” Gage added. “With one nationwide contract, it is essential that we cover all the bases.”

The president of the losing union, NTEU, Colleen Kelley, tried to remain upbeat.

“While I am disappointed TSA Officers did not choose NTEU,” said Kelley, “I know they face a number of significant obstacles in securing the kind of workplace and work environment they want and deserve, and I wish them well in reaching those objectives.”

She acknowledged defeat by a slim margin, but still tried to take some of the credit for the TSA screeners having reached this collective bargaining milestone.

“Securing a determination from TSA Administrator John S. Pistole granting TSA employees much-needed collective bargaining rights is the single most important workplace development in TSA’s nearly 10-year history, and NTEU played the pivotal role in that accomplishment,” she noted, in a press statement.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently passed a homeland security spending bill that would prohibit collective bargaining by the nation’s security screeners, but that position is likely to be resisted in the Democratic-controlled Senate, which has not yet acted on the parallel spending measure.

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