Federal Eye: Eye Opener: TSA Collective Bargaining Rights

Happy Thursday! House lawmakers begin consideration of a bill today that gives Transportation Security Administration employees the same collective bargaining rights and whistleblower protections enjoyed by most other federal employees.

The House Homeland Security Committee today will consider the
Transportation Security Workforce Enhancement Act of 2009, introduced earlier this year by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). The bill gives workers the option to join a union, codifies veterans preference in hiring and whistleblower protections. It has several hundred cosponsors and committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told The Eye yesterday he expects the full House will consider it later this year, though not necessarily before the August recess.

The original laws establishing the agency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 200 state that the decision on whether to allow collective bargaining rests with the TSA administrator. The Bush administration took a pass on union rights, much to the chagrin of unions eager to organize the agency’s tens of thousands of workers.

The bill’s passage sets up what promises to be a spirited battle to represent workers at the last large government agency without collective bargaining rights. As we have reported before, it’s expected that the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) will face off against the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), two groups that have already started campaigning in anticipation the bill’s passage.

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