TSO vote ends in stalemate

Apr 20, 2011

An election to choose one of two unions as the sole labor representative for about 40,000 transportation security officers ended April 20 without either side getting a requisite majority. The Federal Labor Relations Authority, which tallied the vote, will have to set a date for a runoff.

Although only two unions were on the ballot — the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees — a third "no union" option played the spoiler by attracting 16 percent (3,111) of the total 19,587 ballots cast. Voters gave AFGE a slim advantage with 8,369 votes (43 percent) and NTEU won 8,095 votes (41 percent).

To win outright, one union had to secure 50 percent, plus one vote, of all votes cast. If FLRA decides to mandate another six-week election window, then the voting can be concluded by mid-July, said NTEU President Colleen Kelley.

She expressed confidence in the final result. “NTEU is widely known and highly respected for having the best on-the-ground representation and negotiating the best contracts in the federal sector,” Kelley said.

AFGE President John Gage said he felt his union’s first-round advantage would hold through the runoff.

“While AFGE is disappointed that we can’t begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement right away,” Gage said, “we are confident that TSOs will once and for all vote for AFGE in a runoff election.”

Under a recent determination by Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole, TSOs would have limited collective bargaining rights at the national level on certain employment issues — including shift bids, transfers and awards. That determination prohibits local bargaining at individual airports. About 13,000 TSOs are currently paying dues to one or more unions, according to TSA.

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