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Tue, Jun 08, 2010

TSA Union: The FLRA Does Have Authority Over Union Election At TSA

AFGE "Application To Review The Regional Director's Decision" Goes To Full FLRA

The American Federation of Government Employees filed an appeal with the Federal Labor Relations Authority Friday, asking that the full Authority review and grant AFGE's petition for exclusive union representation at TSA.

"We have known from the day we filed our petition [with the regional FLRA] that the ultimate decision would come back to the full FLRA," AFGE Membership and Organization Deputy Director Cathie McQuiston said. "This is something we have been prepared for, and are now ready to take the last step toward having a union election at TSA."

AFGE filed its first petition for a TSA election with the FLRA in 2003. That petition was dismissed on the basis that the FLRA did not believe it had jurisdiction over the questions concerning representation at TSA. AFGE believes that FLRA majority confused the issues of allowing for an election without collective bargaining rights, but that the current Authority members may now understand the distinction. Significantly, in 2003, FLRA member (and current FLRA chair) Carol Pope dissented from the majority opinion, asserting that there are many things a union representative can do for workers absent collective bargaining.

"The agency has already voluntarily recognized AFGE as the representative of TSOs in a limited fashion," McQuiston said. "For example, it has engaged in partnership activities at the national level with AFGE. It processes voluntary dues deduction requests on behalf of TSOs who wish to join AFGE. The agency has established an administrative grievance process and allows TSOs to have representation as part of that process. Finally, the agency trains its managers and supervisors not to discriminate against employees on the basis of their union activity and to remain neutral as to union matters. These processes demonstrate the ability of AFGE to act as the representative of employees even absent the ability to engage in collective bargaining.

"AFGE is proud to have thought outside the box by seeking an election without bargaining rights," McQuiston added. "Other unions have said they believe 'having an exclusive representative is meaningless' without bargaining rights, but our 12,000 TSA members would disagree.

"AFGE has spent the past eight and a half years representing Transportation Security Officers across the country, including acting on their behalf before the EEOC, in the courts and at TSA's own Disciplinary Review Board," she said. "AFGE already is the union of choice at TSA. We now are looking to formalize that relationship, and are hopeful that the current Authority will reconsider and reverse the 2003 decision, and in doing so will grant AFGE's petition for an election."

The FLRA has 60 days to respond to AFGE's appeal.

AFGE is the only union to represent TSOs since the agency's inception, and currently has more than 12,000 dues-paying members in 38 AFGE Locals across the country.

FMI: www.tsa.gov, www.afge.org

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