In the above video, we see John Gage expressing his organizations views on Collective Bargaining, and over at Federal News Radio we have the same John Gage discussing the right of TSA Transportation Safety Officers to be represented by Organized Labor. What is interesting is that in between these two clips a funny thing happened in Wisconsin.
On February 4th, Federal News Radio posted an on-air conversation with John Gage, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) he discusses the limited role of collective bargaining being offered to the TSA Transportation Safety Officers (TSOs) which will cover:
- The performance management process
- Awards and recognition process
- Attendance management guidelines process
- Shift bids
TSA will not negotiate on other issues:
- Security policies, procedures or the deployment of security personnel or equipment
- Pay, pensions and any form of compensation
- Proficiency testing
- Job qualifications
- Discipline standards
And in the on-air audio clip, John Gage, President of AFGE says:
“Unions in the federal sector don’t bargain pay anywhere, well, a couple places that have authority, but very small, but in general Congress sets our pay, Congress sets our benefit package, and that’s not bargainable in the unions even though this is a much more restricted collective bargaining scope, even as compared to other security agencies that we represent, for instance like the border patrols, ICE agents, Federal Protective services.”
Source: 2:28 into on-air interview with John Gage on WFED
Then, in the video above, AFGE President John Gage decries the “unprecedented assault on collective bargaining” going on in Wisconsin and claims that public workers are under assault under cover of budget deficit (he then rambles on into a discussion of Federal budget priorities, national deficit, and the Environmental Protection Agency…). What stood out to me was that while he is holding up the rights of the TSA TSOs to collectively bargain as a good thing, and understanding the limitations federal employees are under with regard to what can and can not be collectively bargained, how can President Gage defend his claims of an “unprecedented assault” in Wisconsin when state employees there will have the same (or better) collective bargaining rights as nearly all federal employees?
The Wisconsin statute limits the ability of most state employees to collectively bargain in the same manner federal employees abilities are limited, with one major exception – Gov. Walker’s proposals would limit public-worker negotiations to base salary, but pension benefits and health insurance contributions would be excluded, as they are also excluded for federal employees. The Federal employees AFGE President John Gage represents can’t negotiate base salary, and he’s seemingly OK with that, so how is it an “unprecedented assault” when Wisconsin state workers retain more rights than his union members?
On a related note, the so-called “right to strike” is not an actual right, it was granted through statute to private sector employees, and absent such authorization public sector employees are barred from such work actions (see FLRA PATCO Decision 07-010-3, I. Historical Perspective).
As AFGE President Gage says in the on-air radio interview:
“Federal employees can’t strike, can’t do slowdowns, can’t do job actions – this is not just TSO this is all Federal Employees that are covered under the same statute”
For background information on Federal Employees rights to strike, see Executive Order 11491, Sec. 19, the Federal Labor Relations Board decision in the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, Affiliated with MEBA and FAA, and UNITED FEDERATION OF POSTAL CLERKS V. BLOUNT decision.
WFED Federal News Radio: TSA workers granted collective bargaining rights
National Archives: Executive Order 11491 – Labor management relations in the Federal Service
Federal Labor Relations Authority: Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, Affiliated with MEBA and FAA
United States District Court, District of Columbia UNITED FEDERATION OF POSTAL CLERKS V. BLOUNT decision