Unions push back on TSA budget cuts

Darron Cummings/AP
Labor unions seeking to represent Transportation Security Administration employees are fighting back against legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining rights and cut jobs at the agency.

National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley on Monday sent letters to key Senate lawmakers asking them to oppose several of the TSA-related provisions included in the fiscal 2012 Homeland Security appropriations legislation, which was approved on June 2 by the House. That legislation included an amendment sponsored by Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., that would prohibit using federal money to establish collective bargaining at the agency.

TSA Administrator John Pistole in February granted limited bargaining rights to 40,000 airport screeners, who previously were excluded from federal regulations granting those privileges. Opponents have expressed concern that collective bargaining would limit TSA's flexibility to respond quickly to emergencies.

Kelley also expressed opposition to an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., which would cut nearly $300 million from TSA employee salaries and benefits. Nearly 8,000 jobs would be at stake, she said. Mica has been vocal about the need to reform TSA's workforce and procedures and has pushed to privatize the airport screening function.

John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called the Rokita amendment an "unfounded attack" on TSA workers. Collective bargaining would not undermine TSA's flexibility nor have a negative impact on national security, he said.

"Poor morale at TSA contributes to inefficiencies at the agency," Kelley said. "Poor workforce management has led to one of the highest attrition rates in the government, and high on-the-job injuries. Concerns have been voiced about increased costs and potential security gaps in our aviation systems because of this turnover and job dissatisfaction."

Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., one of the recipients of Kelley's letter, said the lawmaker supports bargaining privileges at TSA.

"Sen. Lieberman's record on collective bargaining for TSA officers has never wavered," Phillips said. "He supports it because it will improve TSA morale and performance, and therefore will improve the nation's security."

NTEU and AFGE have been vying for exclusive representation of 40,000 TSA employees. An initial election in April failed to produce a majority of votes for either organization, and a runoff is under way. The Federal Labor Relations Authority, which is managing the voting process, expects to announce results on June 23.

The Rokita amendment mirrors a proposal from Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., that was introduced in February and later defeated.

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.