Thanks to AFGE, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed that Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) have been identified as working in high-risk employment for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits.
“TSA identified the 1802 job series as high-risk to ensure our TSO workforce is included in this category,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske wrote to our union. “Please note individuals are still responsible for providing medical documentation to support a claim that they were infected with COVID-19 at the workplace, and DOL will still make the final determination on the claim.”
Pekoske also thanked AFGE for our request for the designation and support for the TSO workforce.
TSOs are uniquely susceptible to the COVID-19 outbreak. Through pat downs and other screenings, their job brings them into close and nearly constant contact with the travelling public. Our officers are exposed to all the contaminants, illnesses, and diseases that may accompany those travelers. Nearly 1,200 TSOs have contracted the virus. Six have died.
AFGE has been urging TSA to provide better protection for TSOs since January. We urged the agency, for example, to allow TSOs to wear N95 respiratory masks, a request TSA initially denied but later agreed to. Our union also urged the agency to identify TSOs as working a high-risk job for the purpose of workers’ compensation benefits, so they don’t have to jump through hoops if they get sick on the job.
“As you and this union have both recognized, TSOs are required to have in-person and close-proximity interactions with the public on a frequent basis,” AFGE President Everett Kelley wrote. “They are even more public-facing than the law enforcement officers who work alongside them (and who are specifically identified as having high-risk employment). As a result, it is only right that TSOs would fall under this category.”