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AFGE commends decision to keep airplane knife ban in place

Decision to rescind proposed policy change is right one for TSOs, aviation workers and traveling public

The American Federation of Government Employees applauds the Obama administration’s decision today to rescind a policy change that would have allowed knives on airplanes for the first time since 9/11.

130305165100-tsa-knives-01-story-top“This decision is the right one for the safety and security of every Transportation Security Officer, airline passenger and aviation employee,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

AFGE is the exclusive representative for the more than 45,000 Transportation Security Officers who screen all commercial airline passengers, baggage and cargo.

“In addition to the lessons learned on 9/11 about the threat of terrorists armed with knives, our concern is for our members who are assaulted far too often by irate passengers. Keeping the knife ban will help keep those confrontations from escalating,” Cox said.

On May 6, AFGE was one of nine organizations representing over 400,000 aviation professionals, passengers and law enforcement officers that filed a legal petition with Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, urging them to rescind the policy change and keep the knife ban in place.

“I commend Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Pistole for listening to our concerns and having the wisdom to withdraw this proposal in light of the grave safety and security risks to our members at TSA, to the flying public and aviation employees,” Cox said.



AFGE TSA Council 100 Opposes Changes to the Prohibited Items List (PIL) Scheduled to Become Effective April 25, 2013

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement regarding a change in the Transportation Security Administration’s Prohibited Items List.

“Any knife, regardless of blade size, can be used as a weapon. TSA has created a situation where TSOs will be required to discern the length and width of a knife blade in a very short period of time. Disagreements over the TSOs’ determination as to whether the knife will be allowed through checkpoints may result in a confrontation. Far too often, TSOs are threatened and even assaulted by irate passengers at the checkpoint; this ambiguous new policy will only escalate those incidents. In addition, TSOs face possible discipline from an increasing number of checkpoint disputes surrounding the new policy.

“AFGE TSA Council 100 also opposes the changes in PIL allowing small, toy or “novelty” bats to pass through checkpoints. TSOs have been assaulted and injured at checkpoints by items smaller than a 24” bat.

“Although duly-elected as the exclusive representative of more than 40,000 TSOs nationwide, AFGE  TSA Council 100 was not included in the committee TSA established to “review the Agency’s Prohibited Items List.” The policy was changed without any input from the employees responsible for implementing the changes at checkpoints at airports across the country. If representatives of AFGE had been included in the committee, TSA would have heard firsthand the risks to both TSA employees and the flying public.

“AFGE TSA Council 100 joins the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations and the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association in opposing the change in policy and urges TSA to meet with the union as the agency reconsiders its decision.

“AFGE encourages those who share our concerns about the new policy to go to www.noknivesonplanes.com and sign the petition asking the White House to rescind the new policy.”

AFGE and TSA Agree To Historic Labor Contract

(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees announced early today that it has reached an agreement with the Transportation Security Administration on the first-ever labor contract for the nation’s TSA officers. No details of the agreement were immediately released.

Talks began in January and concluded in an agreement following a marathon bargaining session that ended at approximately 3:00 a.m. Thursday, August 2, 2012. The agreement will be submitted to the workforce of nearly 45,000 officers for a ratification referendum in the coming weeks.

If ratified, the agreement will represent the culmination of a 10-year effort by AFGE, first to assist the employees in gaining the right to join a union and then to win a contract.

The parties were assisted in the negotiations by mediator Lynn Sylvester of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 650,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including 45,000 at the Transportation Security Administration. For more information visit www.TSAunion.com.

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National President Gage Appears on CBS News

NP John Gage appeared on CBS News to discuss the recent stories about TSA’s strip searches of the elderly. Click here to view the video.

10 Years for TSA and AFGE Says Thank You!


AFGE TSOs look back on 10 years of the Transportation Security Administration.

AFGE Local 777 President Ricky McCoy

Like thousands of other Americans, Ricky McCoy answered the call to serve in the weeks following 9/11. Ricky joined the fledgling Transportation Security Administration, which was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to transfer control of airport security from the private sector to the federal government. Currently, Ricky is a Lead TSO at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and serves as president of AFGE Local 777.

It was beautiful day. I had just return from New Jersey, where I had job interview with the State Police. I came in from walking my dogs, turned on the television and there it was — a plane flying into the World Trade Center. I got so sick. The sickness was then followed by rage and anger. I could not believe this was happening – not in my country. This day changed my life forever. I never take anything for granted. Instead of taking a job with the New Jersey State Police, I applied at the Transportation Security Administration and was hired as a TSO on Sept. 1, 2002.

I joined TSA to make a difference, to be on the front line in this war against terror. I felt this was a task I had to take. I have never looked back. Even though this agency has its flaws, we the TSA workforce will always protect our skies, ports, and roads. We may be criticized by some in Congress and their cronies, but we will never forget why TSA was formed.


AFGE Local 332 President Kim Kraynak-Lambert and 332 Member Brian Silver

AFGE TSA Local 322 President Kim Kraynak-Lambert reflects on where she was that day and how the attacks have affected her life.

It was a beautiful day. I was still working for the airlines at that time and was at a station near some televisions. I remember hearing something about the World Trade Center and then going to watch the nearby television. I watched in horror as the plane crashed into the second tower.

Our airline was near the American Airlines and United Airlines ticket counters and I went to tell those agents what I just saw on television. It was like the sky was falling. I was to help passengers board a plane, so I went to the gate.

That’s when we got the news we were under attack. The Pittsburgh International Airport was shut down. Rather than get them aboard the plane, we told all the passengers to go to baggage claim, get their luggage and go home. The whole airport was like a ghost town. Later, I got on the employee bus to go to get my car out of the airline parking lot – everyone was silent, seemingly stunned. I picked up my son from school … on the car radio I heard about the plane going down in Pennsylvania. For two days it was eerie coming to work at the airport – it was so quiet.

I loved the airport environment and when I joined TSA I did so because I love my country and I wanted to serve. We believe in what we are doing.


Election Dates Set: TSA Workers to Vote for Exclusive Union Representative

Election Dates Set: TSA Workers to Vote for Exclusive Union Representative We have an election today because AFGE would not take “No” for an answer!

(WASHINGTON)—Less than one year after the American Federation of Government Employees filed its petition for a union election at the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Labor Relations Authority today set a date for that election.

Voting will take place from March 9-April 19, with the results being tabulated beginning April 20. The election will be done online and via telephone. Voters will call a toll-free number/log in online and cast a vote using their personal PIN numbers. As agreed to by all parties, the bargaining unit (voters) will include Transportation Security Officers, Lead Transportation Security Officers, Master Transportation Security Officers, Expert Transportation Security Officers, Behavior Detection Officers, Security Training Instructors and Equipment Maintenance Technicians.

“This is great news for the TSOs across the country,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “For years, AFGE has tried to work with TSA to change policies and procedures that are outdated and unjust, only to be told that the Agency can’t take action because it has to ‘remain neutral’ because of the presence of other unions. With this election, that matter will be put to bed and the TSOs can get the workplace procedures they deserve.

“TSOs have been waiting for too long and they need a union that will be innovative in its approach to securing the rights to which they are entitled,” Gage added. “More than 20,000 TSOs in more than 100 airports nationwide already have expressed interest in having AFGE as their union, and we look forward to welcoming the rest of the bargaining unit workforce into our union.

“AFGE can truthfully and proudly say that we have been the only union at airports around the country for nine years fighting for the respect and dignity due TSOs. As the only union with strong backing from the powerful AFL-CIO and its 12 million members, we have the utmost confidence that TSOs will join the tens of thousands of other DHS employees already represented by AFGE and vote overwhelmingly for AFGE,” Gage said.

Following nine years of AFGE activism, TSOs on Feb. 4 were granted long overdue collective bargaining rights. “We have come a long way since AFGE first began representing TSOs in 2001 when the union took up the fight for a federalized security officer workforce,” Gage said.

“The granting of these rights is a step in the right direction and gets us in the door. After AFGE wins the election to be the sole union at TSA, we will move immediately to the table and be ready to negotiate.”

Thousands of AFGE activists on Feb. 8 hand-delivered messages to their congressional representatives, urging them to reject an amendment to the FAA Authorization bill sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) that would prevent more than 40,000 TSOs from being granted basic workplace protections and strip those rights from more than 10,000 other TSA employees who currently have them.

“This country’s TSOs are unequivocally dedicated to protecting each and every American, just like the unionized police and firefighters who valiantly ran into the burning buildings on 9/11. It is an absolute insult to say that with a collective bargaining agreement, TSOs couldn’t fulfill the mission of TSA, of DHS and of the United States of America,” Gage added.

AFGE is the only union to represent TSOs since the agency’s inception, and currently has more than 12,000 dues-paying members in 40 AFGE TSA Locals across the country. For more information, please visit http://www.tsaunion.com. Up-to-date election information can be found directly at www.tsaunion.com/TSAelection.


AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including tens of thousands of DHS employees in Border Patrol, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FEMA, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Federal Protective Service, Office of Immigration Statistics and TSA.


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