Airport screeners vote overwhelmingly for union


In one of the biggest union elections in recent years, federal Transportation Security Officers at the nation’s airports have voted overwhelmingly to unionize.

The ballot offered Transportation Security Administration employees three choices: the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), or no union.

The results of the online and telephone voting, announced April 20 by the Federal Labor Relations Authority, gave AFGE 8,369 votes, NTEU 8,095 votes, and “no union” 3,111 votes.

AFGE and NTEU now will be the only choices on the ballot in a run-off election to determine who will represent the 43,000 TSOs at 450 airports across the United States.

The run-off election will take place May 23 through June 21, also by online and telephone voting. Results will be announced June 23.

“I’m glad there’s going to be a union,” said Roland Thornton, Cottage Grove, a TSO who has worked at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport since 2005. Thornton is treasurer of AFGE Local 899. “We’re going to do our best and get people out” to vote, he said.

Under the Obama administration, TSOs recently gained collective bargaining rights. Even before they did, AFGE recruited more than 12,000 TSOs as members and organized 40 AFGE locals at airports nationwide.

Throughout the organizing drive, the national AFL-CIO has supported AFGE, one of the labor federation’s affiliates.

NTEU is not affiliated.

The fact that 84 percent of the workers who voted in the TSO election voted for union representation brings a major victory for organized labor.

“During a time when this country’s federal workers and their unions are under attack, it speaks volumes that Transportation Security Officers nationwide stood strong and voted to have a union,” said AFGE national president John Gage. “By voting for a voice at work, TSOs have demonstrated that when American workers are given a choice — without intensive intimidation campaigns — they want a union.”

AFGE Local 899 welcomes members of other unions to volunteer at phone banks to help win the coming vote. To volunteer, contact Joe Radinovich, AFGE organizer, at 218-851-1713.

Sources: AFGE, AFL-CIO, Labor Review reporting, Workday Minnesota