WASHINGTON – Mired in negotiations over a renewed collective bargaining agreement, the union for Transportation Security Officers says TSA management may terminate their contract in early December, right before the busy holiday travel season.
“TSA has insisted it will terminate our contract if at least 50 percent of the terms are not signed off before the December 9 expiration date,” said J. David Cox, Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). “This would be the worst possible time for management to rip up our contract.”
The 45,000 TSOs won union recognition with AFGE in 2011 and bargained a three-year first contract in 2012. The current round of negotiations are still ongoing under the supervision of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. But former TSA Administrator John Pistole changed the rules for negotiations in December 2014, on his last day in office, according to the union.
“In one of his last acts as TSA Administrator, John Pistole imposed new restrictions on the subjects of bargaining and new procedures that will mean the contract will be abrogated if the parties do not reach agreement on more than 50 percent of the items by the December 9 deadline,” said Cox. “In taking that parting shot at the front line employees, Mr. Pistole seems to have disregarded the message it would send to the traveling public who rely on our TSOs for safe and secure travel, especially around the holidays.”
According to the union, TSA management negotiators have at times refused to sign off even on provisions that have been agreed upon. The union has been conducting informational picketing at airports around the country to alert the public to the status of contract negotiations and the consistent low morale for TSA Officers. TSA ranks near the bottom of the government’s annual employee satisfaction survey. The union said a breakdown in negotiations will further erode already dismal employee morale.
“Morale is at an all-time low,” said AFGE TSA Council 100 President Hydrick Thomas. “TSOs are tired of low pay, horrible working conditions and being treated like second-class employees. Even though the workforce is extremely dedicated to the TSA mission, it should be obvious to agency management that rock-bottom morale can only have a negative impact on our ability to perform our jobs.”
“In times of heightened security like we are seeing since the Paris attacks, every investment in improving TSO morale pays dividends on the front lines in the fight against terrorism,” said Thomas.