NTEU Responds to FedSmith Article on TSA Organizing

In a recent article, “Aggressive Union Organizing At Transportation Security Administration: National Security Issues?”, the author addressed concerns about the scope of recognition if NTEU were to win the election. The National NTEU President responded to the article. FedSmith provides her response and brief comments from the Author of the article.

In response to my article Aggressive Union Organizing At Transportation Security Administration: National Security Issues?, FedSmith received the following from Ms. Colleen M. Kelley, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU):

Name: Colleen M. Kelley
In Reference to Article: Aggressive Union Organizing at Transportation Security Administration: National Security Issues?
Comments: January 26, 2011


To the Editor:

The Jan. 26 article by Bob Gilson (Aggressive Union Organizing At Transportation Security Administration: National Security Issues?) seeks to generate controversy over a non-issue. That unfairly impugns the commitment to duty of tens of thousands of hard-working, dedicated employees not only in TSA but in US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well.

The track record of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) in representing the CBP workforce since its creation in 2004 and, for 30 years prior, the legacy U.S. Customs Service workforce is one that has proven to be good not just for employees, but for their agency and the taxpayers, as well. CBP has an outstanding, highly professional workforce and our country is very fortunate to have them protecting our borders.

More broadly, it seems clear Gilson would prefer that TSA employees not have a union, despite the serious problems in their workplaces and work lives. But because the no union option isn’t likely to happen, he seems to have shifted his preference to wishing for a weak union in TSA.

As Mr. Gilson’s attacks on NTEU show, he doesn’t want that union to be NTEU. But I believe it will be NTEU. TSA employees want and need a strong union, and NTEU is it. We are proud of the record we have established over more than 70 years of leadership in the federal sector as a strong, responsible union. Were making that case to TSA employees; and when NTEU is certified as the exclusive representative of TSA employees, we’ll bargain a labor agreement that will help improve the TSA workplace and that will carry benefits not only for employees, but for the traveling public and the security of our nation. That is what strong, responsible unions do best. That is what NTEU does best.

Colleen M. Kelley
National President
National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU)
1750 h street, NW
Washington, D.C, 20006

Some Thoughts

I certainly wasn’t impugning the folks from either CBP or TSA. My point was whether it is a good idea for all Federal security personnel at our airports to be represented by one union. I’ve sat at a bargaining table with NTEU and, having done that, can say with certainty that Ms. Kelley is right about one thing and that is NTEU’s unflagging commitment to its own and its members concerns which isn’t even addressed or questioned in the article. Ms. Kelley hasn’t always been NTEU’s President and won’t always be. The leverage gained at TSA has implications for Homeland Security as a whole but neither the current political leadership nor the like-minded politicals at the Federal Labor Relations Authority apparently see a problem here.

And that, Ms. Kelley, was my point.


Editor’s Note: The note from Ms. Kelly was received by the editor in all small letters. We have taken the liberty of inserting capital letters where appropriate. Any error in the capitalization of these letters is mine.

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.