Union Says Deal Will Mean 'Better Working Conditions, Safer Workplaces'
Workers at the Transportation Security Administration have voted to ratify the first-ever collective bargaining agreement at the agency. The agreement between the American Federation of Government Employees and TSA was ratified with a vote of 17,326-1,774. “AFGE is proud that TSA workers finally have a union contract that will improve their working lives and bring stability to the workforce,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox.
“This agreement will mean better working conditions, fair evaluation practices and safer workplaces, and in doing so, it will improve morale. This is important because low morale leads to unsafe levels of attrition in an agency where a stable, professional workforce of career employees is vital to its national security mission.
“This union contract is eleven years in the making. AFGE was told from the start that there would never be a union at TSA, that there would never be a collective bargaining agreement. And AFGE’s response was always the same: These dedicated frontline employees deserve better,” Cox said. Through every battle, every testimony on the Hill, every meeting with management, every union event, every sleepless night, and every rally AFGE and these TSA officers never lost focus on making this contract a reality.”
According to the union, the national collective bargaining agreement will:
- Provide improved uniforms and permits uniform variations to account for weather and temperature.
- Provide a greater degree of consistency and fairness on issues like annual leave bidding and shift trades.
- Provide a stable and consistent process for shift bidding and movement between full- and part-time.
“With this new contract, we hope to turn a new page in the history of this agency while we help make TSA a great place to work,” said AFGE TSA Council 100 President Hydrick Thomas.
But not everyone was pleased with the announcement, or the terms of the agreement. In a news release Congressman John Mica, a Florida Republican and chair of the House Transportation Committee, pointed out that TSA employees "will see their uniform allowances nearly double to $446 per year. By comparison, a combat Marine Lieutenant receives a one-time uniform allowance of $400. The cost of the increase in TSA uniform allowance is an estimated $9.63 million annually."
“Unfortunately, TSA has spent months negotiating agreements which focus on workplace grievances but ignore security performance improvements,” Mica said. “Once again TSA has failed to address mounting screening failures, even after significant security meltdowns in Newark, Honolulu, Charlotte, Orlando, Fort Myers, and elsewhere.
“While we must respect employee rights to be represented by organized labor, TSA has failed to represent the flying public and has missed the mark on improving procedures and protocols while focusing on tie tacks and tattoos,” the release continued. “Even though the army of TSA screeners has reached a labor agreement, it is my prediction they will never be happy while they must deal with this gigantic and often mindless bureaucracy. Many of these hard-working TSA workers are being left in the lurch.”
Mica said the collective bargaining agreement confirms that the TSA will be allowing, and paying, employees to serve official time on a full-time basis for the union. The cost of these types of work arrangements is not known. “This agency continues to fail its employees and the American public by trying to manage a bloated workforce of more than 65,000, including overpaid headquarters and management staff, rather than focusing on providing the best transportation security standards, strong oversight, and more efficient, cost-effective security,” Mica said.