FLRA Says Airport Screeners Can Have A Union But No Collective Bargaining

By on November 12, 2010 in Current Events with 0 Comments

In an amazing decision, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has ordered an election to determine the union that will represent Federal employee
baggage screeners at the Transportation Security Administration’s airport
sites. 

 

The FLRA found that the screeners can
have a union but not engage in collective bargaining. The FLRA, abandoning all pretense of neutrality, clearly took a
political and also demonstrably silly stance in its decision. One of the footnotes in the case is typical
of the stretching of everyone’s credulity this case involves. They say:

 “We acknowledge that the cited
decisions are not representation decisions. Nevertheless, they demonstrate that
labor organizations may be exclusive representatives under the Statute even if
they have limited collective-bargaining rights.“

In each and every instance cited in the text, some minor wrinkle in the
Agency’s law limits negotiation on a very few topics and in most cases only one
while the discretion at TSA is over all aspects of the employment
relationship. It is the exact result of
how lawyers operating in the vacuum of
DC and the even less airy vacuum of the FLRA have no clue about how the
government operates.  

They then proceed to perhaps the most amazing language in any Federal
appeal’s agency’s history,

“We agree with the dissent that there is a difference between “some collective bargaining and no collective bargaining.” Dissent at
13. However, in our view, there is an even more critical difference between
being represented for all statutory purposes (including collective bargaining)
and being unable to be represented for any
statutory purposes at all.”
Footnote 10.

You can hear FLRA’s political appointees crying out, Mr. President, Mr. President, we did It all
for you, you said they could have a union, now they will!
If you recall,
the president promised in his campaign that screeners would be allowed to
unionize.

I’m gonna say I told you so since I predicted this but then predicting wackiness on the part of the current FLRA is not a leap
but more like a sure thing.  In footnote
number 12, the Authority actually declined to declare an issue
unconstitutional. Not, we can’t do that,
merely we decline to. Princeton University’s
website defines Megalomania as “a psychological state characterized by delusions of grandeur.”

About Member Beck’s dissent, Footnote 12 states:

“We note that the dissent also poses several questions regarding what
will occur if the petitions are processed, and asserts that the questions
“demonstrate that our Statute does not countenance the election of an exclusive
representative that has no collective bargaining rights.” Dissent at 15.
However, the dissent’s questions do not have such far-reaching implications.
They simply “demonstrate” that recognizing an exclusive representative with
less than full collective bargaining rights has the potential to raise complex
legal issues – the type of issues that the Authority frequently is faced with
under the Statute. We may not abdicate our statutory responsibility to effect
statutory rights merely because doing so may raise additional, complex
questions. “

I think that says that we are making this decision in the hope of
creating many more cases that we can then decide. 

In contrast, it’s worth the time to read Member Beck’s dissent. Because of the nature of this case, it will
likely not go to court, unlike the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that prevailed against the Authority recently in another inflated ego
case. Shame on you Members Pope and
Dubester. You have done a disservice to
the law and the labor relations program in the Federal sector.

If you see an opinion above, I bear the sole responsibility for it.

© 2016 Bob Gilson. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Bob Gilson.

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About the Author

Bob Gilson is a consultant with a specialty in working with and training Federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels. A retired agency labor and employee relations director, Bob has authored or co-authored a number of books dealing with Federal issues and also conducts training seminars.

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