The American Federation of Government Employees has filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority to be the exclusive representative for 40,000-plus transportation security officers. The TSOs are the Transportation Security Administration employees who work hard to keep safe the more than 600 million people who fly each year.
In 2003, the Bush administration stripped the workers of collective bargaining rights, and AFGE has been fighting ever since to regain those rights. The union now represents more than 13,000 TSOs in more than 100 airports in 37 locals nationwide.
"We have always known that the choice to unionize and the task of winning collective bargaining rights for the TSA workforce would be a two-part process," says AFGE president John Gage. "While it would be ideal for a TSA administrator to have granted collective bargaining rights first, the two do not have to go hand in hand. By settling the question of representation first, AFGE will be ready to begin negotiations as soon as the bargaining rights are established."
At a Feb. 23 rally in Washington, D.C., several hundred AFGE activists and their supporters—including a strong contingent from the AFT (see photo at right)—urged Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to act swiftly to restore the workers' rights. (The AFL-CIO Now blog has a report on the rally.)
The AFT is asking its members to sign an online petition to Napolitano in support of collective bargaining rights for TSOs. "It is time for TSOs to have full workplace rights, including the right to bargain collectively," the petition says. "This is the most effective path to building the professional workforce that our country demands and deserves."
More information about the organizing campaign is available on the AFGE Web site.