TSA Screeners Get a Union Contract

When the TSA was formed it wasn’t supposed to be unionized, since all decisions were supposed to be made on the basis of promoting security at the nation’s airports.

At the beginning of February 2011, however, TSA Administrator John Pistole declared his intention to enter into union negotiations with the screening workforce.

As of yesterday, the federal government has agreed to a union contract for screeners.

The agreement, which must be ratified by the membership, would create a new performance management system, provide an increased clothing allowance and a standardized vacation bidding process. A side agreement allows officers to take certain issues to the Merit Systems Protection Board or a neutral arbitrator.

They’re replacing certification tests with “employee execution of goals and supervisor observations over a year’s time,” increasing screener clothing allowances by 92%, giving employees more choice over uniforms (short sleeves, and they can have agency baseball caps).

They also get greater appeals when discliplined (as though it wasn’t already hard enough to deal with the few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out).

[U]nder a side agreement worked out between Gage and TSA Administrator John S. Pistole, issues that could result in a suspension of more than 14 days could be taken to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Some less-serious issues could be decided by a neutral arbitrator.

(HT: Reader Alan H.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I personally believe that there shouldn’t be public unions. Private unions are fine, but if you are employed by the government to keep us safe, that should be your first priority. If you don’t like a lower wage, and being mixed in with “a few bad apples”, then work for a private security force.

    I have the priority security pass (thanks AMEX Platinum!), and am constantly surprised by the lack of consistency and criteria of TSA (in my line and others). It just seems like we keep plugging holes on a sinking boat rather than trying to get a new boat.

  2. *shrugs* not a big deal. The issue has been, and will continue to be, the government’s wish for security theatre. This is just a minor sideshow to the main event.

  3. It will be interesting to see how much abuse takes place, which is one of the major sources of dissatisfaction with organized labor. People taking advantage of (ie, abusing) intermittent leave policies, non-sensical bump rules (ie, bumping someone into a role for which they are completely unqualified, just because the titles sound similar and they have most seniority), filing grievances due to non-work interpersonal issues, etc. Once people figure out the loopholes and start abusing them, those few wil become major thorns in the side of management and the overall dynamic will change.

  4. Unions protect the deadbeats. I have seen it over over and over again. Union should only allowed to bargain for wages and absolutely nothing else.

  5. This is about the worst possible avenue our gov’t could take with these TSA screeners. Most I interact with don’t give a damn now, and they certainly will care less under a union agreement knowing they’ll never get fired. Union…really?!?

  6. TSA management probably detected reduced public and political support for TSA, not that any politician would actually admit it. In addition to the traditional pressure points on keeping TSA alive, you now have the unions that will pressure politicians to maintain and expand TSA. Any time TSA is in the least bit threatened, they can enlist the help of unions now. It’ll be a lot harder for airports to opt out of using TSA. This monster will just keep getting bigger and bigger. And costlier.

  7. Great, now we have a unionized criminal workforce stalking airports. Expect TSA complaints to skyrocket and less disciplinary action to rein it in.

    In the past two months 35 TSA workers fired or arrested and 66 more disciplined for misconduct. Two more were arrested in the past week for theft from passengers and assault with a handgun. A known pedophile, Thomas Harkins, was exposed two months ago but remains employed as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia and allowed to grope children at the checkpoint.

    There were a total of 94 TSA workers arrested in the last 20 months including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, ten for smuggling contraband through security and one for murder. The most recent were a drunken lead TSO, Milagros Casanas, arrested for beating a woman and trying to steal her cell phone in Key West this week and Robert Don Jensen was charged last week with felony terrorizing, assault, and ingestion of a controlled substance. Another TSA screener at Memphis airport was arrested today for carrying a gun through the checkpoint.

    This is what you get from our government these days, less rights for citizens and more perks for Federal employees.

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