Washington, D.C. —The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) played a key role in the Senate defeat of an unwise amendment that would have excluded Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees from collective bargaining rights. The amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill was offered by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
“The amendment is ill-advised on many fronts. The TSA Administrator has just finished an extensive review of how collective bargaining could be implemented at TSA, keeping security of our traveling public uppermost in that review,” NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley, wrote in a letter to all senators. “On Friday, February 4th, he issued a determination that collective bargaining could begin at TSA (once) its employees choose an exclusive representative in an election already ordered by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). This amendment would prevent TSA employees from the collective bargaining just approved by Administrator Pistole.”
Along with letters from President Kelley, NTEU members reached out to their senators asking them to vote ‘no’ on the amendment. This broad-based grassroots response played a pivotal role in the defeat of the amendment, Kelley said.
In her letters, Kelley pointed out that many federal employees charged with national security responsibilities—Customs and Border Protection Officers, Border Patrol Officers, Bureau of Prison Guards—already have collective bargaining rights, while excelling in their duties and fulfilling their agencies’ critical missions.
“Like these federal employees, TSA employees must follow civil service rules that prohibit the right to strike and allow managers to move employees to different areas in the event of an emergency,” Kelley wrote.
Moreover, she said, there is no place in the federal workforce where there exists a more dire need for collective bargaining than TSA. Employees there labor under a system that has almost completely demoralized them, contributing to one of the highest attrition rates in the government, and high on-the-job injuries.
“Collective bargaining helps to develop fair, credible and transparent processes without interfering with management rights to accomplish agency missions,” Kelley wrote. “We can strengthen TSA by providing its workers with such processes, and with a voice in the development of workplace quality standards that will make the traveling public even safer."
NTEU is actively organizing TSA Officers at airports across the nation; a date of March 9 through April 19 has been set for a union representation election in TSA, which would be run by the FLRA.
NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing more than 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.