TSA workers may have collective bargaining

Feb. 4, 2011 at 9:01 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. airport security workers will be able to have union representation -- but not on all issues, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said.

John Pistole, who took over as TSA director in June, said Friday he would authorize collective bargaining for 45,000 personnel, but not for some issues, including pay, The New York Times reported. Pistole said he was taking the action under power granted by Congress.

Matters subject to collective bargaining would include scheduling, vacation and workplace transfers, and such bargaining would be conducted at a national, not local level.

A vote is scheduled for March in which airport security officers are to choose between two unions to represent them, or to choose not to be represented by any union, the Times said. If they choose to be represented, their union will not be able to negotiate on their behalf on pay, retirement benefits, discipline or security procedures or equipment, and they would be prohibited from striking or staging work slowdowns, the newspaper said.

An estimated 13,000 TSA officers belong to the American Federation of Government Employees or the National Treasury Employees Union -- the unions on the March ballot -- but neither union currently has bargaining authority.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., introduced legislation this week to ban collective bargaining for the workers and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., issued a statement calling Pistole's announcement "President Obama's biggest gift to organized labor." Mica chairs the House Transportation Committee.

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