(WASHINGTON)—The Transportation Security Administration’s
response to the American Federation of Government Employees’ petition
for exclusive union representation at TSA is “no surprise,” AFGE
National President John Gage said today. “We always expected this issue
to be decided by the full Authority.”
In a creative bid to move the action forward, AFGE in February filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority seeking an election to determine which union should be recognized as the exclusive
representative for Transportation Security Officers. In the petition,
AFGE identified what it considered to be an appropriate bargaining unit
at TSA. The FLRA docketed the AFGE petition and moved to determine
whether or not it met the criteria for processing. It then ordered TSA
to post a notice about the election; to submit its designation of which
TSOs would comprise a bargaining unit; and to comment on AFGE’s
As expected, TSA asked the FLRA to “assess its authority” to process the petition. A 2003 AFGE petition for several hundred TSOs at BWI airport was denied when the FLRA ruled it did not have jurisdiction over
the matter. AFGE believes that the 2003 FLRA majority (in a two to one
ruling) confused the issues involved in allowing for an election in the
absence of collective bargaining rights, but that the current Authority
members may now understand the distinction.<
In addition, much has evolved in the relationship between TSA and its union—AFGE—since the filing of that first petition. AFGE has established 37 Local TSA Unions, has represented TSOs in EEO, Workers
Comp and other statutory appeals, and has processed hundreds of
grievances on behalf of TSOs in many of the nations’ 450 airports.
“We clearly already represent these workers,” said AFGE Staff Counsel and Assistant Director of Membership and Organization Cathie McQuiston. “We are seeking to formalize that relationship by asking the FLRA to
conduct an election in which TSOs can make clear once and for all that
AFGE is their choice.”
In its April 12 letter, TSA also asked the FLRA to suspend the directive requiring the agency to post the notice informing TSOs of the AFGE petition because “ . . . there is a discrepancy between how the
Acting Regional Director characterizes the purpose of AFGE’s petition
and the purpose stated in the petition itself.”
“AFGE’s petition asked the regional director to decide the question of representation, separate from that of bargaining agent status,” McQuiston said. “However, the FLRA used its standard language in issuing
the letter to TSA informing them that a union election petition had
been filed. The FLRA ‘opening letter’ states that the AFGE petition ‘…
request[s] an election to determine whether certain non-supervisory
employees of the Transportation Security Administration wish to be
represented for the purpose of collective bargaining.’
“The employees know AFGE filed a petition for a union election and that’s what’s important,” McQuiston added.
In response to TSA’s letter, the FLRA issued to AFGE an order to “Show Cause” by April 27 as to why the union’s petition should not be dismissed. Gage stated that AFGE is prepared to meet that deadline.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.
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