By Keith Laing
The election to collectively bargain for Transportation Security Administration employees was won by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), union officials announced Thursday.
AFGE had been competing in a runoff with the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), but the former claimed victory.
"We are obviously thrilled with the election results, but more importantly are delighted that the Transportation Security Officers now will have the full union representation they rightly deserve," AFGE President John Gage said in a statement.
"AFGE thanks the TSOs for their support and faith in our union," he continued. "AFGE anticipates developing a cooperative and cohesive relationship with TSA as we move to forge a collective bargaining contract that TSOs so desperately need."
"We will be reaching out to TSOs at airports across the country for their input as to what they would like to see in a contract," he said. "We recognize that TSOs in small airports have different concerns from those at large ones. With one nationwide contract, it is essential that we cover all the bases."
National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) President Colleen Kelley said she was disappointed her union was not chosen to represent the TSA, but was glad the agency voted to have union representation at all.
"Securing a determination from TSA Administrator John S. Pistole granting TSA employees much-needed collective bargaining rights is the single most important workplace development in TSA’s nearly 10-year history, and NTEU played the pivotal role in that accomplishment,” Kelley said in a statement.
“Without NTEU’s persistent efforts, including communications with President Obama and key members of Congress on this issue, TSA employees still would not have such rights, which are essential to the workplace improvements needed in their agency,” she said.
TSA Administrator John Pistole authorize the union vote earlier this year, but he said Thursday that the AFGE's influence would be limited.
“As always, the safety of the flying public is our top priority and TSA simply will not negotiate on security-related matters," he said. "Once the FLRA certifies the final election results, we hope and expect that the elected union will join us to continue to further strengthen performance and support TSA employees as they carry out our vital security mission.”