The president of the American Federation of Government Employees said TSA would not agree to a third-party arbitration process to resolve disputes between employees and managers. Not having a third-party arbitration process will protect and support poor management, the union leader said. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
Negotiations over the first union contract between the Transportation Security Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees have hit a stumbling block.
John Gage, AFGE president, said in a news conference Tuesday that TSA would not agree to a third-party arbitration process to resolve disputes between employees and managers.
Gage said TSA has told the union that was "off the table." Not having a third-party arbitration process will protect and support poor management, he said.
"It's about hiding a management structure that is incompetent," Gage said.
TSA said it would continue to discuss these issues with AFGE.
"TSA is committed to ensuring that all employees are given full due process rights and looks forward to continued discussions with AFGE related to these important issues," said TSA spokesman Greg Soule.
TSA Administrator John Pistole in February agreed to allow limited collective-bargaining rights for TSA employees, but he said unions would not be permitted to bargain over security issues.
In June, AFGE won the right to represent TSA employees in negotiations with the agency — negotiations that began in September.
Gage said the right to appeal certain management decisions to a third party would help improve low morale at the agency and help correct an "arrogant" management structure.
"What we are asking for is basic workers rights," Gage said.
He said the union also plans to press hard for changes to the pay system, which he called discriminatory.
Gage said TSA employees should be paid more for the work they do — which he said serves an important national security function and is thankless.
"There is no one out there who thinks it's fun to pat down an old lady," Gage said. "This is what they are told to do."