(WASHINGTON)-After years of pushing for new legislation, and as the only union representing the Transportation Security Administration workforce, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today congratulates the House of Representatives on its vote to grant Transportation Security Administration officers (TSOs) collective bargaining and appeal rights and whistle blower protections.
"With TSOs deprived of collective bargaining rights, AFGE has been the only union to provide representation before the Disciplinary Review Board, EEOC, courts, in Congress and in the media," AFGE National President John Gage said. "AFGE has stood beside TSOs since the creation of TSA, and our union will continue to do so."
With the support of the powerful AFL-CIO, AFGE took the case of worker abuse at TSA to the International Labor Organization, which recently ruled that the agency violated the rights of TSOs by denying them the right to organize and bargain collectively. AFGE also has consistently called for Congress to grant to TSOs the full scope of collective bargaining-for which the House action now clears the way.
Today's House vote on the 9/11 Commission Bill included repeal of a footnote of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which called for all TSA employees to have the same basic labor protections of other federal workers. However, a footnote in the ATSA allowed for the TSA Administrator to have sole authority over deciding on the issue of union rights for the TSOs.
"The new House has begun the process of righting a terrible wrong," Gage said. "TSA’s denial of collective bargaining and other civil service rights is not what Congress had in mind when it created the agency, and TSA no longer will get away with treating its valued employees like second-class workers."
"Of all the federal agencies, TSA embarrassingly leads the way with injury and attrition rates and EEOC complaints," Gage added. "TSA subjects its employees to workplace discrimination, retaliation, adverse actions, mandatory overtime, and fear of speaking out on issues of security. By repealing the ATSA footnote, the House has said that TSA will no longer be allowed to deny its workers basic labor rights. And, allowing for collective bargaining, whistle blower protection and appeal rights will help improve security by stabilizing the workforce and improving morale.
"We thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Bennie Thompson and Rep. Nita Lowey, and all of the congressmen and women who voted for justice," Gage added.