FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2010
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421

Collective Bargaining and Union Representation Are Distinct Rights

(WASHINGTON)—Stating that the rights to collectively bargain and to have union representation are two separate rights, the American Federation of Government Employees today filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority Washington Regional Office its Response to Order to Show Cause as to why there should be a union election at the Transportation Security Administration.


AFGE filed a petition for exclusive union representation at TSA in February with the Washington Regional Office of the FLRA. TSA responded to AFGE’s petition by citing a 2003 Authority decision that dismissed an earlier (2003) AFGE petition for TSOs at BWI Airport. TSA has asked the FLRA to “assess its authority” to process the petition. Referring back to the 2003 Authority decision, the FLRA Regional Director ordered AFGE to “show cause” why its petition seeking an election should not be dismissed.


Included in its legal brief in support of its position, AFGE made the following arguments: the FLRA’s holding in the 2003 case was a “significant departure from Authority precedent;” the FLRA’s underlying reasoning in the 2003 case is “legally and constitutionally flawed;” subsequent to the FLRA’s 2003 decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that it did have jurisdiction to hold an election for private sector TSOs; and since 2003, “factual circumstances surrounding the representation of TSOs have significantly changed.”


“The Aviation Transportation and Security Act, under which TSA was created and is governed by, does not deprive the FLRA of its jurisdiction to conduct a representation election,” AFGE Deputy Director of Membership and Organization Cathie McQuiston said. “This is supported by the NLRB’s ruling that the limitation of collective bargaining rights of private TSOs had no effect on its jurisdiction to hold a representation election.”


Rights other than collective bargaining that are granted under Chapter 71 of U.S. Title 5 include the right to “act for” and “present the views of a labor organization” to agency heads and other government officials, the right to “participate through labor organizations of their own choosing in decisions which affect them,” the right to represent employees in formal discussions and certain examinations, and the right to participate in and utilize a grievance procedure even if that procedure is one other than the one provided for through collective bargaining.


“The right of collective bargaining and the right to have an exclusive union representative are separate and distinct,” McQuiston said. “It’s plain as day that there is no legal justification for denying AFGE’s petition. The Regional Director should order an election, as requested by AFGE.”


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