by Ron Moore, DC Special Interests Examiner
Transportation Security Administration employees love their jobs and believe what they do is important, but they also feel unheard, underpaid, and unfairly treated. They also don’t think very highly of their bosses. TSA was founded in the wake of 9/11 to bring a consistent standard of security to passenger and baggage screening replacing the patchwork for-profit system. Unfortunately, former President Bush opposed creating the agency if the new TSA workers weren’t stripped of the most basic federal workplace protections.
According to TSA’s 2008 Organizational Satisfaction Survey, a mere 22 percent of TSA employees think promotions are fair and transparent. Only 28 percent think their pay raises are based on how well they do their jobs. Around a third feel they receive recognition for a job well done, and less than a quarter of the workforce feel personally empowered on their jobs
But the most troubling category in the survey is Leadership and Quality. All 11 questions about how well managers do their jobs received negative reviews. Among the results:
22 percent said managers and leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce.
24 percent are satisfied with the policies and practices of TSA senior leadership and local managers.
26 percent said managers lead by example such as being fair, building trust and respect, using cooperative problem solving approaches.
26 percent said managers follow up on their suggestions to make services and work processes better.
34 percent have a high level of respect for TSA’s senior leaders while 33 percent have a high level of respect for their local managers.
“This is not surprising,” said American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage. “We continue to receive a number of complaints from TSOs all over the country about everything from the quality and safety of the uniforms, to the unfair application of PASS, to basic worker dignity. Once AFGE has secured collective bargaining for the TSA workforce, these survey results will start to improve.”
The survey results are not much different from those of the 2007 survey done by Homeland Security and TSA’s own survey in 2006. Both the 2007 and 2006 surveys revealed employees’ deep distrust in management and their dissatisfaction with TSA’s polices and practices.