Buoyed by Obama Win, AFGE Steps Up Campaign to Organize TSA Employees
(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees today congratulated Senator Barack Obama on being elected president of the United States, and re-launched a nationwide effort to recruit tens of thousands of TSOs into the union.
“AFGE’s campaign to organize TSOs dates back seven years to the agency’s inception,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “However, inspired by Senator Obama’s election win—and his support for both TSOs and AFGE’s endeavors at TSA—AFGE today re-launched its membership drive with the goal of demonstrating the strong desire of this workforce to finally be granted full workplace rights.”
Obama and Gage have met on several recent occasions, during which Obama has offered support for AFGE’s efforts. In an Oct. 20 letter to AFGE, Obama stressed that “it is unacceptable for TSOs to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections … Collective bargaining rights ensure that federal agencies run as effectively as possible and are able to focus on protecting our national security … agreements also provide an excellent structure to address issues such as a fair promotion system, the scheduling of overtime, shift rotation, health and safety improvements …”
The union has worked closely with Cong. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., to help sign co-sponsors to H.R. 3212, a bill introduced by Lowey that would repeal of a footnote of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (under which TSA was created) that gives the TSA administrator free rein to “employ, appoint, discipline, terminate, and fix the compensation, terms and conditions of employment” for TSOs.
Until that footnote is overturned, and with un-questioned support from President–elect Obama, AFGE is mounting an unprecedented effort to send clear and concise message to the new TSA administrator: a collective bargaining agreement will help TSOs better serve the public because the workforce that best protects the country is a workforce that’s properly compensated, well trained, and fairly treated.
“TSOs only ask for the same rights as other federal workers and simply want a systematic and fair manner to deal with real day-to-day issues in the workplace, that when appropriately resolved, result in a strong, loyal workforce,” Gage said. “TSOs know first-hand that AFGE—as the largest and most powerful federal employee union in the country—is the best hope they have of quickly obtaining the workplace rights they have been so unjustly denied.”
As the only labor union to represent TSOs since the agency’s inception, AFGE is the foremost authority on labor issues pertaining to the TSA workforce. Members of Congress most often look to AFGE as the official source of information on TSA matters and the union frequently is invited to testify on such issues. Although TSOs remain deprived of the right to bargain collectively, AFGE regularly represents these employees before the TSA Disciplinary Review Board, EEOC, Congress, and in courts and the media. AFGE remains the strongest advocate for workplace rights at TSA.