March 26, 2014
By Stephanie West
In June 2011, the American Federation of Government employees won the right to represent employees at the Transportation Security Administration. More than a year later, TSA workers ratified their first-ever collective bargaining agreement.
That contract created new gains for employees, reformed the leave process, placed a greater emphasis on giving benefits to workers with seniority and increased the allowance for uniforms.
The agency and union could not come to an agreement on several elements of the negotiations, however, and the outstanding provisions were argued before an arbitration panel.
AFGE scored “important wins” for 45,000 Transportation Security Officers in the arbitration decision released this week. Among the victories was a small increase in parking subsidies. AFGE had supported 100 percent coverage, but TSA said it couldn’t afford it and the arbitrators settled on a maximum of $35 in out-of-pocket parking costs for employees.
The panel also ruled that TSA management must, when feasible, allow employees to bid on shifts for their home terminals in seniority order. The arbitrators declined to mandate the bidding, as AFGE requested, but increased the pressure to implement the process. AFGE also won the right to send representatives into some meetings with management.
“This is a very important step forward for TSA employees,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “TSOs voted AFGE as their exclusive union representative to build a movement strong enough to improve the notoriously difficult conditions they work under every day. There is still much to be done, but this decision moves us firmly in the right direction.”