A new bill introduced by Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York would finally grant Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) the same workplace rights as all federal employees, including their colleagues in the Department of Homeland Security.
The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act, also known as H.R. 4488, would put TSOs on the General Schedule pay scale and provide them with much needed worker protections like the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Being recognized as equal counterparts to their fellow federal employees would greatly improve workplace conditions and lift sagging morale.
“Transportation Security Officers perform an essential public service each and every day at our nation’s airports. Yet, these professionals – who are trying to pay mortgages and rent, send their kids to college, and save for retirement – are not guaranteed the same collective bargaining, health, leave, and other basic rights afforded to most federal employees,” said Congresswoman Lowey.
"Implementing basic worker protections for this critical workforce has been a lengthy fight and it is time for Congress to come together and enact legislation that will grant these frontline security workers the rights and benefits that they deserve,” said Congressman Thompson. “We believe these changes will increase security and will lead to an improved workforce with better morale."
TSOs stopped more than 2,000 firearms from getting on airplanes in 2015 alone but morale continues to sink as they are constantly denied some of the most basic workplace rights.
“Morale for TSA Officers is at an all-time low,” said AFGE TSA Council President Hydrick Thomas. “We work very hard under some of the most stressful and dangerous conditions, but are treated like second-class employees as compared to the rest of the federal workforce. We just want equal treatment.”
AFGE enthusiastically supports the Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act and urges Congress to recognize the daily sacrifices TSA Officers make to protect the flying public.
“We are very thankful for the support our TSA officers have received from Rep. Thompson and Rep. Lowey over the years,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “TSOs do a great job ensuring air travelers reach their destinations safely. They deserve to be treated like every other federal employee, and this proposal is a major step in the right direction.”