AFGE TSA Council 100 is asking TSA to protect high-risk employees by reinstating Weather and Safety Leave (WSL) so that the employees don’t risk their health as the number of coronavirus cases in the country continues to rise.
TSA has designated Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) as working a high-risk job for contracting COVID-19. The agency in March implemented WSL for high-risk employees but recently rescinded it even though TSOs work on the frontline of the pandemic and at least 1,455 of them have tested positive and six have died.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain people are at an increased risk of developing serious complications from the virus due to their age or underlying medical condition. Recent measures implemented by TSA to address the shortage and quality of personal protective equipment for TSOs do not adequately resolve this concern while the number of infected TSOs continues to rise.
“This pandemic is not permanent, but neither is it going away tomorrow,” said the TSA Council in a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We believe that prematurely reverting to business-as-usual leave policies by requiring that high-risk employees who choose to prioritize their health and safety exhaust their own leave is myopic: it ignores the sheer scope of this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, it places an unfair burden on many in your frontline, and it fails to provide a solution for the near future once the leave balances have been exhausted.
AFGE urges TSA to give high-risk TSOs the security and peace of mind they deserve. We are confident that, as it has done throughout the pandemic, the agency can continue to carry out its mission without sacrificing its most vulnerable employees.