June 11, 2003, letter sent to Secretary Ridge
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage has sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge asking that Ridge exercise his management authority over the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and affirm that “TSA employees have the right to join unions and bargain collectively.”
Harnage's letter states that "neither DHS nor the public have been given a rationale for TSA’s exclusion from collective bargaining beyond Admiral Loy’s April 2003 statement that collective bargaining rights would interfere with DHS’s ability to quickly transfer baggage screeners from one city to another."
Harnage continues by highlighting the fact that "high level managers from the former Customs Service, Border Patrol and FEMA have all confirmed that collective bargaining did not and will not interfere with management's ability to quickly transfer employees in an emergency."
Harnage concludes the letter by stating that "the current situation continues to create adversarial relations by unskilled managers, intimidating TSA employees who exercise their constitutional and legal rights to associate with a union. Continued failure of TSA to appropriately address this problem will give us no other option but to seek redress with the FLRA and/or the courts. We prefer to work with you in making DHS the organization you want it to be."
AFGE is the largest federal employee union in the U.S., representing 600,000 federal and D.C. workers.