“The assault on the nation’s Transportation Security Officers has gone on for far too long and must come to an end,” said John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the only union to have worked on behalf of TSA employees since the agency’s inception. AFGE stands in solidarity with Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chair Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) as they introduce legislation that will help make President Obama’s commitment to grant TSOs collective bargaining rights and workplace protections into reality for the 43,000 men and women who stand on the front lines protecting this nation. AFGE encourages cosponsorship of the bill and stresses the urgency of a swift passage.
The Transportation Security Workforce Enhancement Act of 2009 grants TSOs the same collective bargaining rights and workforce protections as other federal workers and ends TSA’s Performance and Accountability Standards System. Due to the flawed nature and outrageous subjectivity of the PASS performance evaluation system, TSOs have been denied countless thousands of dollars in increased wages.
“This is a great day for the undervalued and unappreciated TSOs, and for the continued security of the flying public,” Gage said. “We have come a long way since AFGE first began representing TSOs in 2001 when the TSO position was federalized. Representative Lowey, Chairman Thompson and Subcommittee Chair Jackson Lee consistently have stood up for the TSO workforce and have worked tirelessly for years with AFGE to achieve the goal of workplace equality for all TSOs.
“Civil service protections have helped the federal government work smoothly for some 50 years, and collective bargaining rights and workplace protections will only serve to enhance both the TSO workforce and the safety of the flying public,” Gage added. “It is no coincidence that the one federal agency that fails to observe workplace protections, suffers from a variety of dysfunctions. TSOs ask only for the same rights as other federal workers, and simply want a systematic and fair manner to deal with real day-to-day issues in the workplace, that when appropriately resolved, result in a strong, loyal workforce.
“Majorities in both the House and Senate have voted in favor of collective bargaining rights and workplace protections for TSOs. With this new legislation and with the support of the Obama administration, the long overdue benefits of federal employment will be granted to a workforce committed to keeping the public safe from acts of air terrorism,” Gage said. “AFGE can rightly and proudly say that we have been the only union at airports around the country for eight years fighting for the respect and dignity due TSOs. We will take our fight for passage and enactment of the Transportation Workforce Security Enhancement Act to every airport and to the public in every congressional district across the country so well protected by this deserving workforce.”
AFGE has represented the TSA workforce since the agency was created in 2001. The union currently has more than 10,000 dues-paying TSA members in 30 Locals nationwide.