Two Unions Square Off In TSA Representation Vote to Begin

By FLORA FAIR The Chief | 0 comments

Tentative dates have been set for the Transportation Safety Administration union-representation election, but there’s still no word on granting collective-bargaining rights, which would give TSA employees more leverage in contract negotiations.

At a consent meeting Jan. 21 between the TSA, Federal Labor Relations Authority officials and union leaders, the election process was tentatively set for a six-week period beginning March 9. It will be the largest union election in Federal labor-relations history, covering more than 40,000 TSA employees under the Department of Homeland Security.
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The two unions vying for the right to represent them are the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

“It was a good meeting today, where all parties were in general agreement to most of the election terms,” said AFGE Membership and Organization Deputy Director Cathie McQuiston, adding that the only holdup is a dispute over the bargaining-unit description.

Bargaining Rights Uncertain

The biggest question remains whether the employees will be granted collective-bargaining rights by TSA Administrator John Pistole. Without this, despite union representation the TSA is under no obligation to negotiate contracts.

“NTEU continues to press strongly for collective-bargaining rights,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “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.” She said she’s been in contact with Mr. Pistole, who promised a decision on the issue, though no timeline has been set.

Balloting will be conducted online and by phone, with votes to be counted by the FLRA on April 20.

AFGE represents 600,000 government workers, while NTEU has more than 150,000 members. Both unions currently work with TSA employees in local chapters.

“Collective bargaining is the single most meaningful way employee voices can be heard on all manner of workplace issues,” Ms. Kelley said.

The consent meeting also addressed the rules for the election, including voter eligibility, potential challenges and campaigning.

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