TSA head says collective bargaining would be costly

Legislation granting Transportation Security Administration workers collective bargaining rights would be costly and would hinder managerial flexibility, the agency's chief told senators Monday.

Kip Hawley told members of a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee focusing on workforce issues that costs associated with implementing collective bargaining rights would be about $160 million. He did not provide details on what types of costs would be involved.

The legislative language in question would be part of a massive bill to implement unfulfilled recommendations of the 9/11 commission. The House granted federal screeners collective bargaining rights in its version of the bill. The Senate has yet to complete the measure, but the White House has threatened a veto if the final version contains the provision.

Hawley argued that collective bargaining would hamper the flow of information between managers and other employees. Lawmakers told the TSA chief he should present the subcommittee with details of what opportunities would be denied to managers.

Administration and Homeland Security Department officials also have said that granting such rights would cut into TSA's flexibility to respond quickly to emergencies.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., presented a similar argument against the language, and also charged that Monday's hearing was needless. All parties with an interest in the language have revealed their intentions, except for the individual lawmakers, who likely will vote Tuesday, he said.

"The president already said he'll veto the bill," Coburn added.

But John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, one of the largest federal labor unions, said the administration's opposition is unfounded. "Opponents of collective bargaining rights for [TSA employees] invoke September 11th as if the lesson of that terrible day were to deprive Americans of their rights at work," Gage said.

In a separate line of questioning, Hawley rejected claims that TSA has been able to reduce employee injury rates and Equal Employment Opportunity complaint filings through intimidation and the threat of firings.

"The injury reduction has been remarkable," Hawley told lawmakers.

He also credited the agency's pay for performance management system for making "attrition … one area that has dropped."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.