Union, TSA near final labor contract

Erik S. Lesser/AP

A federal employee union is close to a final labor agreement with the Transportation Security Administration that will affect 45,000 transportation security officers nationwide.

Calling the negotiations “marathon,” John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the union has a partial collective bargaining agreement with TSA, but “ran out of time” at 3:00 a.m. on July 21 before a final deal was inked. “Both parties remain committed to reaching an agreement and will go forward from here to bring the negotiations process to a successful conclusion,” Gage said. This will be the first labor agreement between the agency and the union.

Gage in December 2011 expressed frustration over contract talks with the agency, labeling a meeting at the time with TSA chief John Pistole “very discouraging.” One of the major sticking points involved independent third-party reviews of employee disputes, which the union has argued is a fundamental collective bargaining right. At the time, TSA pledged to work with AFGE on ensuring all employees are given full due process in such disputes.

AFGE won exclusive representation of 45,000 TSOs in June 2011 and since then has worked with TSA on the details of a collective bargaining agreement. The two sides also are talking about moving from TSA’s pay-for-performance system, known as the Performance Accountability and Standards System, back to the General Schedule. Gage has claimed PASS is discriminatory to older workers, women and minorities.

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