Contest to organize airport screeners heats up – Government Executive

The American Federation of Government Employees on Tuesday announced progress on its petition to hold a unionization election at the Transportation Security Administration. But the rival National Treasury Employees Union remains close behind AFGE in the race to represent airport screeners exclusively, according to its leader.

AFGE on Feb. 22 filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority for an agencywide election at TSA, saying it had enrolled 12,000 of 40,000 nonsupervisory TSA workers as members. Kelley said on Tuesday that NTEU also had gathered 12,000 membership applications or signed union cards indicating TSA workers wanted to organize with NTEU.

  • There is no upside whatsoever to the unionization of TSA employees for the employees themselves or the public. The floor of protections for civil service employees is already very high. All employees currently have substantail rights under the federal civil service laws, including a wide array of appeal venues under EEO procedures. I was the national director of labor relations for the US Customs Service in the mid 1980s, and an SES field operations manager for 20 years. I saw first hand the demoralizing impact of unionization of the employees, and the negative impact on the agency's ability to carry out its mission. Every management action is the subject of endless “impact and implementation” bargaining. The agency, except in a rare emergency, cannot act while the negotiations are ongoing. Every disciplinary action is disputed. Employees are demoralized when then see poor performing employees or employees who committed misconduct protected by the union. The public sector is the last bastion of unionization in the US. Unionization of TSA employees would be the proverbial “lose lose” scenario.