Senate Republican Seeks To Block TSA Collective Bargaining Rights


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Senate Republican Seeks To Block TSA Collective Bargaining Rights

Mike Mitchell

February 4, 2011 - The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) on Thursday sent a letter to every member of the Senate calling for defeat of an unwise amendment that would exclude Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees from collective bargaining rights. The amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill was to be offered by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).  

?The amendment is ill-advised on many fronts,? NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley, wrote to senators. ?First, the TSA Administrator has just finished a review of how collective bargaining could be implemented at TSA, keeping security of our traveling public uppermost in that review.   

?We should allow him to proceed. Second, the majority of the TSA workforce has expressed an interest in representation, and poor morale at TSA contributes to inefficiencies at the agency.?

Along with the letter from President Kelley, NTEU members are reaching out to their senators asking them to vote ?no? on the amendment.  In her letter, 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.  

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 leading the effort to secure such rights for them, working both with the administration and members of Congress on that issue. Under the law, Administrator Pistole has the right to issue a directive granting collective bargaining rights. NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing more than 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.


Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ?Nearly ten years after September 11, 2001, we must remain mindful of the active threats to our nation,? said Wicker.  ?Safeguarding America?s transportation requires both vigilance and flexibility. Burdensome and costly union demands could limit the ability of those responsible for security at some of the most high-risk targets to do their job.


Wicker?s amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill (S.223) would exclude more than 40,000 TSA personnel from collective bargaining.  The 2001 law that created TSA gives the administrator authority to decide whether or not unionizing is allowed. The Bush-era administrator issued a memorandum stating that unions could not collectively bargain on behalf of TSA employees.  

The Obama Administration, mindful of workers rights has allowed collective bargaining to move forward. On November 12, 2010, the Federal Labor Relations Authority also decided that TSA employees will be allowed to vote on union representation. Balloting is tentatively scheduled for March 9 through April 19, 2011.

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