TSA Collective Bargaining Rights Key To A More Effective Agency

 

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TSA Collective Bargaining Rights Key To A More Effective Agency

By
Daniel Baxter
 

September 24, 2010 - Collective bargaining will present the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with a time-tested, well defined process for improving TSA workplaces and employee morale, and leading the way to developing an agency better prepared to meet its critical national security issues. 

That was the message delivered to a House subcommittee on Thursday by President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) in submitted testimony. NTEU is leading the effort to secure collective bargaining rights for the TSA workforce. 

While TSA ranked low 220th out of 224 in a recent “Best Places to Work” survey, President Kelley told a House Homeland Security subcommittee that TSA Officers believe in their mission and love what they do.

 

“They go to work every day wanting to contribute to our security,” she said in her testimony to the Transportation Security and Infrastructure Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). President Kelley noted that TSA has a new leader in place, Administrator John S. Pistole, and pledged to work together with him to make the agency better. 

While addressing six areas of concern, President Kelley’s testimony emphasized the need for collective bargaining rights. “Collective bargaining would give TSA Officers a voice in their workplace,” she said, allowing them to work with TSA leadership “to devise uniform, fair and transparent personnel procedures that will improve overall job satisfaction and morale of the workforce.”  

Kelley added, “collective bargaining would provide TSA with a time tested and well defined process for ensuring fair treatment, addressing issues with appraisals, evaluations, testing and pay, provide for a fair and transparent scheduling process and give employees a hand in improving workplace safety”—all the while preserving the rights of management.  “Federal labor relations,” she said, “are set up so that the mission of every agency is of paramount importance.” NTEU recently conducted a survey of TSA Officers which found that 85 percent of TSA employees believe that collective bargaining rights would improve the effectiveness of TSA.

 

Along with the need for collective bargaining—NTEU is seeking both an administration directive and congressional approval of H.R. 1881, which would grant such rights—the NTEU leader raised these related TSA issues with the subcommittee; pay, training, leave, worker’s compensation and labor-management relations. All are in need of serious improvement, she said. For example, Kelley noted the recent dismal showing of TSA in the Best Places ranking and said employee perceptions at TSA are that senior leaders misuse their authority, exercise it inconsistently and show little regard for employees’ ideas about how to do the work better. 

“There is also a sense that work rules are too rigid, not taking into account personal emergencies or other circumstances beyond an employee’s control,” she said. NTEU is engaged is a nationwide organizing campaign among TSA Officers and has petitioned the Federal Labor Relations Authority for a union representation election at the agency. Meanwhile, on the parallel track, NTEU continues to press vigorously for TSA Officer collective bargaining rights. NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.

 

 
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