Unions get OK for election at TSA

By: Mark Rockwell

AFGE's John Gage

The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) cleared the way for two large labor unions to hold elections to determine which will represent security screeners at the Transportation Security Administration.

In a ruling Nov. 12, the FLRA said the National Treasury Employees’ Union (NTEU) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) could hold elections at the agency to secure collective bargaining right for TSA’s transportation security officers (TSOs).

TSA employees currently have no collective bargaining rights, but TSA administrators have had the power to grant a broad array of workplace rights, including collective bargaining, since the agency's beginning, but none has yet done so, said NTEU in a statement. TSA Administrator John Pistole is currently conducting a review of collective bargaining rights at the agency.

“NTEU is eager for a union representation election for Transportation Security Administration employees and is determined to accelerate its lead role in the effort to secure collective bargaining rights for these employees,” said Colleen Kelly, the union’s president.

“While we wait for the decision on collective bargaining rights that TSA Administrator Pistole has indicated will come soon, the election process can begin to move forward,” said John Gage AFGE national president. “TSOs have waited long enough for both formal representation in the workplace and for the same collective bargaining rights held by Border Patrol and Federal Protective Service officers, ICE agents, FEMA employees, DoD civilians—as well as those screening officers that work for TSA contractors," he said.

NTEU said it continues to press the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to grant employees such rights, and is working with members of Congress on the issue.

Some questions, however, remain, according to NTEU. “In its decision, the FLRA, which oversees federal sector labor-management relations, did not address the important questions about what the lack of such rights would mean to employees in the TSA workplace under these circumstances which NTEU asked in its filing. No federal sector representation election has ever been conducted under circumstances in which employees lack the right to bargain collectively.”

According to NTEU, the FLRA will establish the rules and timetable for the vote, count the votes and ultimately certify a winning union. NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

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