(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)—representing the largest number of federal employees, including Transportation Security Officers (TSOs)—today applauded Senate members for voting to table a motion that would deny TSOs collective bargaining and appeal rights.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today moved to table a motion introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) that would have stricken an amendment offered by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that was included in the 9-11 Commission Recommendations bill, as reported by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Lieberman provision gives full employment rights, including collective bargaining, to TSOs. Voting to table DeMint’s motion effectively kills it and keeps alive Lieberman’s provision.
AFGE worked closely with Lieberman to ensure that language was included in the Senate bill (S.4) that would allow TSOs to collectively bargain and have adverse action appeal rights. Following DeMint’s motion, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) offered an amendment similar to Lieberman’s that provides basic worker rights and protections to TSOs.
“AFGE thanks Majority Leader Reid, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair Lieberman, Subcommittee Chair Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Sen. McCaskill, and all of the Senate members who voted in favor of TSA bargaining rights,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “TSOs must have full employee rights in order to do their jobs … in order to protect this nation.
“Many people, including some in the Senate, have falsely stated that allowing TSOs such rights would hamper national security,” Gage added. “That is completely untrue and every other Department of Homeland Security employee should take personal offense. DHS employees at every agency, including Border Patrol and Federal Protective Service, are unionized, and should be insulted at the insinuation that they are not doing their jobs to the best of their ability.”
Gage yesterday testified before the Senate at a review of the TSA personnel. In his testimony, Gage stated that “ … it is time for Congress to recognize that because their duties are so similar to those of other public safety officers with full labor rights, TSO deserve to be rewarded with civil service and collective bargaining rights … the benefit to the American people will be enormous as the agency’s workforce stabilizes.”
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.