TSA officers 'desperate' to unionize

tsa_officer.gi.top.jpgOfficers with the Transportation Security Administration, shown here with a body scanner at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. By Aaron Smith, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With many of them stifled by part-time pay and unpleasant airport pat downs, officers for the Transportation Security Administration are trying to unionize.

"These are people who desperately need a union," said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which has 600,000 members from different federal agencies. "We want a union and we want collective bargaining rights."

The 40,000-plus officers with the TSA could be voting to unionize in the next few months, according to both Gage and Dina Long, spokeswoman for the rival union, the National Treasury Employees Union, which has 150,000 members.

"There are 43,000 employees in the TSA workforce and they have been excluded from basic workplace rights including collective bargaining rights," said Long. "Administrator [John] Pistole is reviewing whether these employees will be granted collective bargaining rights."

TSA workers have been at the focal point of the controversy surrounding the agency's new tighter passenger screening rules. They are the ones, at select high-traffic facilities, administering enhanced body scans or -- for those passengers who decline the scan or set off alarms -- pat downs.

Collective bargaining is usually the way unions hash out their contracts with employers, generally focusing on better pay and benefits whenever a contract is up for renewal. It's not quite that simple with federal employees, however, because Congress decides whether they'll be receiving a pay increase or better benefits.

"We represent our workers in Congress; that's where our pay and health benefits are set," said Gage. "We'll testify and lobby, and try to improve our pay and benefit through political action, not through an employer."

The annual starting pay for TSA officers is usually about $29,000. Part-time TSA officers often make about $14 per hour.

Union representatives hope that unionizing the TSA workers will help them achieve a better system for determining pay increases and improve the current system, which relies heavily on part-time workers. Many of the new officers for the TSA are required to work part-time for two years or more before being considered for full-time.

"Most of them cannot survive on part-time pay with TSA," said Claude Newton, a retired TSA officer supervisor who now works for the National Treasury Employees Union. "Most of the officers are having to go out and get second and third jobs. Even some of the full time TSO officers are having to go out and get second jobs."

The TSA was not immediately available for comment. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,122.01 15.31 0.09%
Nasdaq 4,569.62 -1.02 -0.02%
S&P 500 2,000.12 0.10 0.00%
Treasuries 2.36 -0.03 -1.25%
Data as of 9:17pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.20 -0.13 -0.80%
Apple Inc 102.13 1.24 1.23%
Facebook Inc 74.63 -1.33 -1.75%
Yahoo! Inc 38.18 0.39 1.03%
Pfizer Inc 29.49 0.28 0.96%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

Companies like Apple, GE, and Microsoft that do business abroad can delay paying U.S. taxes on the billions of dollars they keep offshore -- indefinitely. More

Former Fed chief Ben Bernanke believes the 2008 financial crisis was the worst in global history, topping even the Great Depression. More

Tech fans are already excited about the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 next month. There's now a report suggesting that the iWatch could be coming too. Wall Street is pleased. More

Utah State professor Michael Glauser cycled 4,000 miles this summer, visiting 100 entrepreneurs across the country. Here's a snapshot of how they grew their businesses. More

Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from: What they would do differently if they had another chance. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.