AFGE: Transportation Security Officers ratify new pact

WASHINGTON—It took months at the bargaining table, but the nation’s 42,000 Transportation Security Officers – the airport screeners – found a contract they could live with, their union, the Government Employees (AFGE) reported.

Of course, since they work for the feds and under particular restrictions on what unions can bargain about in that sector, that means certain key items, such as pay, were off the table anyway. And other disagreements are going to arbitration, AFGE admitted.

TSA officers rejected the agency’s first pact a year ago because of the agency’s “unwillingness to agree to improvements in the terms and conditions of employment,” the union said.

Key issues were workplace rights and job security. After the rejection, the TSA and the union went back to the table. The agency agreed to enough changes that 85 percent of voting Transportation Security Officers approved the contract on Dec. 8, union President J. David Cox reported. The new pact takes effect on Jan. 7.

“TSA officers showed their professionalism and commitment to keeping the public safe when air travel was at a record high, and they did it all while their rights on the job hung in limbo,” Cox said. “We went back to the table to ensure the voices of the officers we represent were fully heard. There’s still a long way to go for officers to have the full rights as other federal employees, but this contract improves some terms and conditions” of their work.

Despite the agreement and the vote, several key issues are going to arbitration, the union said. They include rules governing the agency’s pay-for-performance system, performance awards, grievance procedures, arbitrations and investigations. A panel of independent arbitrators will decide those issues, AFGE said.

“TSA Officers are veterans, former law enforcement officers, and middle class working people who shoulder a tremendous responsibility to keep the flying public and our nation safe,” said AFGE TSA Council 100 President Hydrick Thomas in a statement. They “deserve to be respected, supported, and valued by TSA management.”

Source: PAI