(WASHINGTON)—With more than 30 percent of the Transportation Security Administration workforce expressing interest in making their choice of union representation official, the American Federation of Government Employees today will file a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to be the exclusive union representative for 40,000 Transportation Security Officers. AFGE National President John Gage today issued the following statement:
“AFGE is very proud today to seek sole representation of the TSA bargaining unit. 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, in the courts and on Capital Hill. Since AFGE chartered its first TSA Local in 2003, our TSA membership has grown from 13 brave TSOs to nearly 13,000 today.
We have 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. While it would be ideal for a TSA administrator to have granted collective bargaining rights first, the two do not have to go hand-in-hand. By settling the question of representation first, AFGE will be ready to begin negotiations as soon as the bargaining rights are established.
AFGE filed its first petition for an election with the FLRA in 2003. That petition was dismissed on the basis that the FLRA did not believe it had jurisdiction over the questions concerning representation at TSA. AFGE believes that FLRA majority confused the issues of allowing for an election without collective bargaining rights, but that the current Authority members may now understand the distinction. Significantly, in 2003, FLRA member Carol Pope dissented from the majority opinion, asserting that there are many things a union representative can do for workers absent collective bargaining. Since issuing her dissent, Pope has been named FLRA chairman.
Rights other than collective bargaining granted by law include the right of a union to act for and present the views of the labor organization to heads of an agency; present views to Congress and other authorities; the right to act for employees and represent them in formal discussions and disciplinary meetings; and the right to represent employees in grievance procedures, EEO and Workers Compensation appeals. AFGE has spent the past eight years doing all of these things. In short, AFGE has been acting as the union for TSOs for almost a decade. Petitioning the FLRA to conduct an election is merely a formality that will establish our union as the only legitimate representative of this long-suffering workforce.
More than 13,000 TSOs in more than 100 airports in 37 AFGE Locals nationwide have already spoken—declaring AFGE their union of choice. AFGE hopes for a speedy FLRA decision, so that TSOs nationwide can finally put to rest the question of union representation.”