Congress Proposes Giving TSA Full Bargaining Rights
A bill is making its way through Congress that would end the second-tier status of TSA agents
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) enthusiastically supports the Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2019 (H.R. 1140) re-introduced by Representatives Bennie Thompson (MS) and Nita Lowey (NY). If passed, the law would give Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) full collective bargaining rights and ensure these officers have the same workplace rights as other federal workers.
Our frontline TSOs keep our skies safe every day, while receiving some of the lowest pay and barebones workforce rights in the federal government," said Thompson. "This last Trump Shutdown put on sharp display the incredible amount of stress our TSOs are under."
Since the creation of the Transportation Security Administration following the 9/11 attacks, TSA officers have been the frontline of our national security framework. In 2018, they confiscated a record-setting 4,239 total firearms at airports nationwide. During the shutdown, TSOs, air traffic controllers, aviation inspectors, pilots and flight attendants blew the whistle and expressed concern that the delicate web of aviation safety was unraveling.
"Our TSA officers really stepped up and answered the call of duty during the shutdown," said Hydrick Thomas, AFGE TSA Council 100 president. "They continued to serve our country and keep the flying public safe— while not knowing when they would be paid again. It's past time these dedicated officers receive fair treatment in the workplace."
TSA officers worked without pay for 35 days during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Many had to take on second jobs, rely on food banks and donations, and apply for food stamps and other government assistance just to make ends meet. The shutdown exacerbated an already strained TSO workforce at an agency plagued with high turnover and low employee morale.
"The 35-day shutdown severely impacted our TSA officers," said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. "TSOs took an oath to protect us, but doing so while worrying about eviction, the ability to feed their families, and pay bus fare to get to work, put this safety at risk. We are thankful for the continuous support our officers have received from Representatives Thompson and Lowey. Putting in place the proper workplace protections for these officers is the least Congress can do to help make them whole again after the shutdown."
This new legislation would put TSA officers on the General Schedule pay scale and provide them with much needed statutory worker protections against unfair labor practices. Providing TSOs with the same rights as other federal employees will improve workplace conditions, lift the agency's dismally-low employee morale, and decrease the high turnover rate for officers.
"These roughly 44,000 federal employees have been denied basic worker rights and protections for far too long, and it is long overdue that they receive the same treatment as their fellow employees across the federal government," said Lowey.
AFGE urges Congress to pass the Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2019 to make our airports more secure by providing workplace fairness to the TSA officers who protect the flying public.