ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, February 7, 2011

TSA and Unions

Last week, we brought you news of a stand-off between the Transportation Security Administration and Congress over whether or not airports should have complete freedom to choose to hire private screeners.  Over the weekend, courtesy of The New York Times, we learned of more breaking TSA news.  According to the Times, TSA director, John Pistole, has agreed to allow a union to bargain on behalf of the working conditions of TSA employees.  

But many traditional areas of collective bargaining will be off limits, and the TSA employees cannot strike.  Although TSA employees already have the right to join a union, those unions can only represent TSA employees on individual issues; they are not currently authorized to represent employees for the purposes of collective bargaining.  

Democrats applaud Mr. Pistole's decision; Republicans decry it, calling it a gift from the Obama Administration to organized labor.  The decision may in part be prompted by surveys suggesting low morale among TSA workers.  The hope is that collective bargaining can help with morale.  As we indicated last week, private screeners' compensation packages must be equivalent to those of federal employees.  Does this mean that, if TSA employees decide to join a union, that union will also effectively represent the interests of private screeners?


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