Unions rally to represent TSA workers

Photo by Christopher Evans
Two unions are ratcheting up their drives to represent 48,000 Transportation Security Administration screeners and other employees awaiting word from their new leader about whether they’ll be allowed to collectively bargain.

The AFL-CIO-affiliated American Federation of Government Employees - which is vying against the smaller, independent National Treasury Employees Union to exclusively represent TSA workers - held a “solidarity” event yesterday at Logan International Airport, where it’s trying to gain the backing of 900 employees.

“They’re the only federal officers within the Department of Homeland Security that don’t have equal rights protection and collective bargaining.”said AJ Castilla, an AFGE organizer and former TSA worker at Logan.

That lack of representation is among the reasons why the TSA ranked 220th out of 224 agencies in the Partnership for Public Service’s 2010 list of the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government,” the unions said.

TSA workers are harassed about taking legitimate sick leave and want to be part of the “general schedule” pay-grade system that covers the majority of other federal workers, Castilla claims.

Shift-bidding procedures are unfair, and split shifts require TSA workers at Logan, some of whom travel from Maine and Rhode Island, to work four hours in the morning and four hours in the afternoon with an unpaid three-hour break in between, he said.

Castilla yesterday also ratcheted up the rhetoric against George Naccara, saying Logan’s federal TSA secrity director is an example of why TSA workers need union representation. Castilla claims Naccara is the “No. 1 guy for making up local policy” that runs afoul of TSA policies set in Washington.

The TSA dismissed Castilla as having sour grapes about his former Logan job and noted that Naccara had a distinguished 33-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard prior to joining the TSA, retiring as a rear admiral.

“George Naccara’s record speaks for itself, and he will not comment on the baseless accusations of a disgruntled former employee with a personal axe to grind,” TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said.

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