AFGE filed its first petition for an election with FLRA in 2003, but the petition was dismissed after FLRA decided it did not have jurisdiction over the unionization effort.
At that time, said AFGE National President John Gage, FLRA seemed to be unable to separate the issues of unionization and collective bargaining—which TSOs under law are not currently permitted to do. Gage noted that Carol Pope, who now chairs the FLRA, dissented in the 2003 decision on the basis that unions also performed services other than collective bargaining, such as representing members before agency leaders and Congress, and in formal discussions, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and appeals.
“AFGE is very proud today to seek sole representation of the TSA bargaining unit,” Gage said. “AFGE began serving the TSA workforce the day the agency was created. In that time, we have represented TSOs before the agency’s Disciplinary Review Board, at the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], in the courts and on Capitol Hill. Since AFGE chartered its first TSA Local in 2003, our TSA membership has grown from 13 brave TSOs to nearly 13,000 today.”
Gage said that although it would have been “ideal” if TSA had granted collective bargaining rights before unionization, the union had “always known that the choice to unionize and the task of winning collective bargaining rights for the TSA workforce would be a two-part process.”
The National Treasury Employees Union, which also represents TSOs at about two dozen chapters at airports around the country, said it is ready to file for an election should FLRA grant AFGE’s petition.
“Should the FLRA determine that this petition is valid, NTEU is ready to compete for and win a union election in TSA,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley. “However, we question the timing of pursuing exclusive representative status without the existence of collective bargaining rights. More specifically, we question how having an exclusive representative, without collective bargaining, will bring about real, meaningful improvements to TSOs’ work lives.”