House Bill Would Improve Pay and Protections for TSA Workers
Earlier this month, Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill to move more than 45,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport officers into Title 5 of the U.S. Code.
While TSA workers are already unionized,this legislation would grant them additional rights including collective bargaining, whistleblower protections, and protections against discrimination based on age or handicap.
Currently, TSA operates on a pay-for-performance system that rewards employees who receive outstanding evaluations. This change would place them into the General Schedule pay scale. Additionally, while TSA managers and supervisors already have the right to appeal personnel decisions and terminations through the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), this move would enable rank-and-file employees to do so as well.
“These are the sort of protections that make people better employees, because they’re not worried about that aspect of their jobs,” said Charity Wilson, a legislative representative with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) – the union that represents TSA employees.
AFGE has endorsed this legislation, and Wilson noted that the union has been working with Thompson and Lowey for “over a decade on the campaign to ensure that TSOs are treated fairly as federal workers.”
“The workforce has a very important job to do, they really are on the first line of defense in regards to aviation security. They’re also called upon to screen at [events] from presidential inaugurations to the Super Bowl,” Wilson said. “It’s a heavy burden to bear. On top of that, when you feel you’re not being treated fairly, you go ahead and you do your job, but it just makes that burden even heavier for you.”
The Homeland Security Department – which houses TSA – has consistently scored at the bottom of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
Posted in From the Hill