(WASHINGTON)-The American Federation of Government Employees and several of its Local union leaders today met with Transportation Security Administration management in a historic, first-ever formal labor-management meeting. AFGE Transportation Security Officer activists took center stage in the meeting with acting TSA Administrator Gale Rossides, Chief of Staff Art Macias and other TSA management officials. AFGE National President John Gage led the AFGE delegation, which in addition to the TSOs included Staff Counsel Chad Harris, Legislative Representative Charity Wilson and National Organizer Peter Winch.
“The past eight years with the Bush administration have been an uphill battle and we are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “With this meeting, TSA has acknowledged that AFGE is an integral piece of the agency’s relationship with its employees—in short, that AFGE is here to stay.
“Our TSOs were the stars of this meeting,” Gage said. “They shared real-life experiences of what it means to work on the front line for airport security. They used their collective voices to tell the stories of their TSO coworkers. It was a privilege to be part of such a courageous and powerful group of union leaders.”
TSA’s topics of discussion included testing, the agency’s pay-for-performance system and certifications; leave policies, disciplinary actions and field management culture; and local organizing environment and next steps at the national level.
Thursday’s meeting came about from an earlier discussion, in which Gage asked Rossides specifically for a labor-management sit down. “AFGE is very pleased that TSA took our request seriously. We are pleased to be taking this step toward a real labor-management relationship between TSA and AFGE, and look forward to building on this modest start.”
AFGE has represented the TSA workforce since the agency was created in 2001. The union currently has approximately 11,000 dues-paying TSA members in 32 Locals nationwide.
“AFGE is the only union that can truthfully and proudly say that it has been fighting for collective bargaining for the entire eight years TSA has been in existence,” Gage said. “This is a battle not just for bargaining rights, but for the respect and dignity long overdue to TSOs.”