When Congress first introduced the TSA after the September 11, 2001, attacks, it released the Agency from Title 5 of the U.S. Code and gave it wide leeway to determine employee pay and performance, as well as to discipline and lay off workers. TSA employees were only allowed to unionize in 2011 and have only reduced tariffs compared to the rest of federal staff. The collective agreement is implemented 30 days after the day of ratification and will remain in force for a period of three years. The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act (H.R. 1140), introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss, and Nita Lowey, N.Y., would grant Title 5 rights to all TSA employees. The bill would provide workers with full collective bargaining rights, due process and whistleblower protection, and tie compensation to the overall schedule. “Today`s agreement between TSA and AFGE is an important step in our relationship with our employees and AFGE,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “Together, we will continue to secure our nation`s transportation systems and keep the public safe.” WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today ratified a collective agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
The agreement applies to approximately 44,000 TSA employees and will come into force on December 9, 2012. The provision of the law, which orders the TSA to enter into collective bargaining with staff, explicitly states that they negotiate with AFGE or a “succession organization” that retains the voting rights of workers to be represented by a new union if they wish. “The modern and agile system devised by Congress has never been realized,” he said. “Instead, road safety officers are subject to an outdated system that does not provide adequate compensation, regular pay increases or basic protection for the public service. In addition, a staff member who is the subject of disciplinary intervention is not entitled to speak to an independent third party such as the Merit Systems Protections Board. According to a former deputy administrator of the TSA, this lack of adequate judicial protection has led to a culture of retaliation and arbitrary personnel practices, which has led to reprehensible behaviour and revulsion about security vulnerabilities. During debate on the bill Wednesday, Thompson said Congress intends to give TSA the power to establish its own human resources system so that it can be flexible in the face of evolving threats, but that has not happened. . “Nothing in H.R. 1140 limits the ability of staff to elect union representation,” Thompson said.
“There are options – it`s not a closed door process, and we would never have done it anyway.” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said it will be more difficult for TSA to accomplish its mission without its existing margin. Alex Brandon/AP NEXT STORY: The Union is asking the OPM director to withdraw his proposal to limit paid parental leave This story has been updated to reflect that the house has passed the law.