The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has ratified its labor agreement with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union, the agency said Friday.
The AFGE won the right to represent TSA in an election held in the spring. The union and the airport security agency agreed to a deal in August, and TSA said Friday that the agreement had been ratified by its more than 40,000 employees.
TSA Administrator John Pistole called the ratification a “milestone” for the 10-year-old agency.
“The completion of today’s agreement between TSA and AFGE is a milestone in our relationship with our workforce and AFGE,” Pistole said in a statement released by TSA. “Together, we will continue to secure our nation’s transportation systems and keep the traveling public safe.”
AFGE said TSA union contract was approved Friday with a 17,326-1,774 vote.
The union’s president, J. David Cox, said the agreement “will improve their working lives and bring stability to the workforce.
“This agreement will mean better working conditions, fair evaluation practices and safer workplaces, and in doing so, it will improve morale,” Cox said. “This is important because low morale leads to unsafe levels of attrition in an agency where a stable, professional workforce of career employees is vital to its national security mission.”
Congressional critics of TSA were not as impressed with the labor agreement, accusing the controversial agency of focusing on “tie tacks and tattoos” in its labor negotiations instead of airport security issues.
“Unfortunately, TSA has spent months negotiating agreements, which focus on workplace grievances but ignore security performance improvements,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Once again TSA has failed to address mounting screening failures, even after significant security meltdowns in Newark, Honolulu, Charlotte, Orlando, Fort Myers and elsewhere.”
Mica added that the labor agreement would not be as good for TSA employees as the agency and the union have proclaimed.
“While we must respect employee rights to be represented by organized labor, TSA has failed to represent the flying public and has missed the mark on improving procedures and protocols while focusing on tie tacks and tattoos,” he said. “Even though the army of TSA screeners has reached a labor agreement, it is my prediction they will never be happy while they must deal with this gigantic and often mindless bureaucracy. Many of these hard-working TSA workers are being left in the lurch.”
Democrats were far more charitable about the TSA’s labor contract, however.
“After over a decade of struggling for basic workplace rights, Transportation Security Officers were finally given the opportunity to vote on a contract that ensures that their voice will be heard in the workplace,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement. “They voted overwhelmingly in favor of ratification of the contract. This contract will improve both morale and workplace conditions.”