Union calls TSA contract negotiations ‘very discouraging’

None Chris Pedota/Newscom
This story has been updated. The once-promising outlook for contract talks between the American Federation of Government Employees and the Transportation Security Administration soured Tuesday as the union expressed frustration negotiating for independent third-party reviews of employee grievances and disputes.

AFGE President John Gage called his meeting Monday with TSA Administrator John Pistole "very discouraging," particularly on the "key point" of allowing an independent third party to adjudicate employee disputes.

"It's a fundamental collective bargaining right. It's what makes the world go round. It's something that every employee in [the Homeland Security Department] has, it's something that even the management of TSA has," Gage said during a press conference Tuesday. Since winning exclusive representation of more than 40,000 TSA airport screeners in June, AFGE has urged TSA to meet its definition of a "third-party" or independent review process for resolving employee disputes.

Gage called TSA's current review system a "kangaroo court," and said an employee cannot face an accuser, bring witnesses, conduct cross-examination, or do "anything that has become standards not just in federal government, not just in unions, but in America."

Pistole has told Gage through lawyers that TSA would have a fair and neutral dispute resolution process, Gage said, but "that you simply go to a manager." This system "just doesn't pass the smell test on independent fairness and neutrality," he said.

TSA pledged to work with the union. "TSA is committed to ensuring that all employees are given full due process rights and looks forward to continued discussions with AFGE related to these important issues," the agency said in a statement.

Other issues AFGE plans to pursue further in its negotiations with TSA include the agency's pay system, which Gage said discriminates against older employees, women and minorities. Transportation security officers from several union locals were at Tuesday's press conference and explained their concerns.

"We were promised the world," said Alan Jackimowicz, a TSO from Detroit. "A young organization, and you would just rise to the occasion and you would get everything you ever wished for. But that's not what happened. This was supposed to be 50-50. . . look how many women supervisors you see. You see very few."

Stacy Bodtmann, a transportation security officer at Newark Liberty International Airport airport, said that women officers who must conduct pat-downs on female passengers are stretched too thin, leading to discipline issues with management.

"If you question management on, 'Why do I have to run to a different terminal?' there's a discipline that follows," Bodtmann said. "You can be disciplined and be completely innocent, but because of the peer review and all it is, is a manager, your supervisor and peers, it's about, 'Well, can we discipline you for this?' "

"Whereas, a third party would understand that this is about whether you did the right or wrong thing," she said.

Gage said that negotiations in Congress on the payroll tax cut extension could give transportation security officers "the worst of both worlds" if they included an extended federal pay freeze or provisions increasing the amount they must contribute to their pensions.

"They will get all the bad things that are coming down on federal workers, and they have the extra added traction of not having anywhere near the same base pay as other federal employees," Gage said.

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

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

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

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