Unions vie for TSA hearts and minds – GovExec

On the administration’s list of priorities, the Transportation Security Administration hasn’t exactly come out on top. It took until September 2009 for President Obama to nominate an administrator for the embattled agency, Erroll G. Southers, only to see him withdraw in January. And recently, the president’s second nominee for the post, former Maj. Gen. Robert Harding, withdrew his name for consideration.

After arriving at the Homeland Security Department, TSA’s parent agency, Secretary Janet Napolitano said she would examine whether she had the power to grant collective bargaining rights to Transportation Security officers. But she never moved on the issue. And Republican lawmakers have slammed the agency for checkpoint incidents ranging from screeners playing practical jokes to asking a disabled boy to remove his leg braces.

In the midst of this uncertainty and bad news, the two biggest federal employee unions are preparing to battle for exclusive representation of TSA’s workforce. As the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union ramp up the largest union organizing campaign in the federal government’s history, they are relying on platforms developed over many years and many competitions to convince TSA workers that they are best prepared to fight for the agency’s future.