As the holiday season is approaching, AFGE is calling on Congress and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to do six things to achieve a safe, efficient and positive experience for the flying public as well as those charged with carrying out the mission of airport security.
In a testimony before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security on “On the Frontlines in Turbulent Times: Workforce Perspectives on the State of Transportation Security,” AFGE detailed the plight of the screening workforce the past 20 years and what needs to be done to make sure the TSA workforce have the resources and support they need to do their jobs.
Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) have worked on the frontlines through multiple government shutdowns, including the unprecedented 35-day shutdown in 2018-2019. Though TSOs are among the lowest-paid federal employees, they worked without pay over a span of three pay periods and some are still digging out from the financial consequences of having to go without paychecks for over a month.
For someone working with low pay and few rights at work, having to borrow money or work temporary second and third jobs, and deal with not being able to pay rent, car payments, child support, or even groceries – that is the real definition of turbulent times.
It doesn’t have to be that way – certainly not to the workers with an enormous responsibility of protecting the flying public from terrorism.
Here are 6 things that Congress can do and/or direct the administration to do:
- Passing a full-year appropriations bill before Dec. 3 to keep the government fully functional and allay future threats of looming shutdowns
- Employing zero tolerance of passenger violence and abuse and checkpoints. Every day, TSOs face verbal and physicalabusesincluding spitting from passengers unhappy with health and safety protocols.
- Extending zero tolerance to supervisors – step up training, de-escalation of potentially violent situations and retrain or discipline supervisors who rein over their airports and checkpoints through systems of bullying and intimidation
- Planning for adequate peak schedule staffing to minimize lines and reduce the risk of violent and abusive behavior at checkpoints
- Providing parity in the implementation of vaccine mandates with government contractors by extending the deadline to Jan. 18
- Passing legislation to guarantee full collective bargaining rights and pay to TSOs. These are practical steps that will result in less turbulence, ensure passenger and employee safety, and allow thetraveling public to focus on the good of the holiday season.
AFGE looks forward to working with the committee and with TSA to achieve a safe, efficient and positive experience for the flying public as well as those charged with carrying out the mission of airport security.