Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Feeling TSA workers' pain

The headline on the press release screams in bold letters: “Big Labor Captures Airport Screeners.”

The release from Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, refers of course to the announcement June 23 that the American Federation of Government Employees won its contest with the National Treasury Employees Union to represent more than 40,000 Transportation Security Administration airport screeners. About 17,000 TSA employees voted for one union or the other.

“This would be the largest group ever taken over by the largest government employee union,” Mica says in the release.

OK. Whatever.

“I share the frustrations of TSA workers,” Mica says. “While collective bargaining for airport screeners may sound like a solution to a dysfunctional workplace, only a dramatic overhaul of TSA will provide a proper structure for improved employment conditions, employee respect, and the best possible security operations.”

What it does not say, of course, is that Mica believes that “improved employment conditions” and “worker respect” would best be attained by getting rid of federal screeners altogether and turning the whole thing over to private contractors. He laid out that position pretty clearly earlier this month when his committee released a 137-page report supporting the use of private screeners and accusing TSA of thwarting efforts to expand their use.

And now he’s got a union to contend with as well.

Mica also sees the security lapse at Honolulu International Airport at the end of last year as another potential springboard for his efforts. Although TSA has investigated the incident and proposed the firing of dozens of TSA employees at the airport, Mica earlier this week called on the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General to look into the episode as well. Coincidentally, Mica’s announcement of the OIG request also made reference to “TSA’s cooking the books to make the all-federal screening model appear to be less costly than contract screener operations.”

Anyway, AFGE had better put away the champagne. It’s got its work cut out for it.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:02 PM


Reader comments

Sun, Jan 22, 2012 Kenneth Wade Brooklyn Nyc

I worked as a lead screener for 8 years at Tsa and the unions suck Tsa management will never be fair because congress gives them protection.They fired so many good people with their pass program and the unions did nothing to stop them.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 Randy Florida

Mr. Mica does not tell the whole story. AGFE won the union election with 8,900 votes while NTEU received about 8,500 votes out of 40,000 eligible employees. That should tell Mr. Mica that a majorty of TSA employees just want to do a good job and be left alone. Mr. Mica has no authority over TSA and uses his bully pulpit to make a name for himself. Mica can not lose no matter what happens to the TSA workforce. I should mention that the private security company at SFO that Mr. Mica thinks so highly of is represented by the Service Employee International Union but Mr Mica don't seem to know that.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 TSA Mom Northern Virginia

My adult daughter has worked for 3.5 years for TSA as a baggage screener and handler - risking her life everyday looking for harmful items. She has been misused, abused, demoralized, and unappreciated since she began service..not only by management, but by the flying public. Please give credit to those hard-working employees that have sacraficed over and over to continue to work for TSA - trying to make things better - in a hostile work environment. After all, she is female in a male workforce hoisting 100 lb. bags wtihout a/c in summer or heat in winter - suffering injury and wear and tear on her body. The public does not see these over-worked TSA employee - only the personnel that search boarding passengers. They desperately need parity and some type of representation. I hope the union can gain some ground and obtain the benefits normal to ALL other Federal Employees - EXCEPT TSA.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 FXSTC N'East

Maybe Rep Mr. MICA (R-Fla) should spend more time on keeping the illegal Aliens out of FL. instead of destroying Fed. employees livelyhoods.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 OKC

The TSA is like most other ideas that are hatched inside the Beltway in times of stress: Touchy-feely, look-at-what-I-did legislation that goes terribly wrong. And now they have a UNION to deal with. Sheesh - When will Congress learn to leave well enough alone?

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