AFGE Petition For Exclusive Union Recognition Moves
News sources are reporting that President Barack Obama's second
nominee for transportation security chief withdrew from
consideration Friday because of questions over his background as a
defense contractor. While this news represents another setback in
the quest to have a permanent head of TSA appointed, the union
representing the TSA workforce – the American Federation of
Government Employees – is more concerned about having the
right person in this important Obama administration position.
"Because of the importance of the TSA administrator to our
nation's security, the administration has got to make it a priority
to find a nominee who is above reproach and can win a confirmation
bid," said AFGE President John Gage, upon hearing of Harding's
This is the second of two White House nominees to withdraw from
the confirmation process after clearing the two committee hearings
necessary to move the process to a full vote of the Senate. AFGE,
which has been waging an eight-year battle for collective
bargaining rights for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs),
recently filed a representation petition with the Federal Labor
Relations Authority (FLRA) calling for an election to be certified
as the exclusive representative for the 40,000-person TSA
The petition will test the current law governing union
representation in the federal sector in that it seeks to separate
the issue of "collective bargaining" from that of "exclusive
recognition" at TSA.
"The fact is that AFGE has been representing TSOs in the
non-collective bargaining environment for years now," said Gage,
"While it remains true that these workers must have collective
bargaining rights and the opportunity to have their grievances
heard by an independent third party arbitrator, there are
still many arenas in which our local stewards and staff counsel are
fighting and winning cases on behalf of TSOs. Our petition seeks to
put to rest once and for all which union workers want to represent
them before a tough TSA management. Once this question concerning
representation is resolved, AFGE will be better positioned to move
quickly to the bargaining table once the rights are granted."
The AFGE petition to be the exclusive union representing TSOs
has cleared the first hurdle before the Washington Region of the
FLRA in that it has met the criteria of having made a "prima facie"
case of having 30 percent of the TSO workforce declare interest in
holding a union election. TSA has until April 12 to present the
FLRA with its position on the AFGE petition, and to submit an
employee list of those it believes would be eligible to vote in a
union representation election.
AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000
workers in the federal government and the government of the
District of Columbia, including tens of thousands of DHS employees
in Border Patrol, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration
and Customs Enforcement, Federal Protective Service, FEMA, U.S.
Marshals, Coast Guard and TSA.