(WASHINGTON)— Thanks to efforts by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents some 4,500 Transportation Security Officers, the Transportation Security Administration management at Washington Dulles International Airport retracted a policy that Military Leave requests had to be submitted at least two weeks in advance.
In a May 7 e-mail, Dulles Scheduling Operations Officer Dale Chandler stated that, at Dulles, requests for Military Leave would no longer be granted unless they were provided a minimum of two weeks in advance.
AFGE issued a letter to TSA Administrator Kip Hawley asking for an immediate retraction of the new policy. Less than two weeks later, Chandler sent an email to employees rescinding his previous directive.
“We are appalled at [Chandler’s] actions placing additional bureaucratic demands on those who are protecting and serving our country,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “The actions of Mr. Chandler suggest that TSA employees may have to choose between losing their TSO jobs and being forced to be absent without leave from their military commitment.
The Dulles policy is a “gross violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994,” which states that persons who serve in the uniformed services give “written or verbal notice of such service” or “no notice” in some cases, Gage said.
The issue of full staffing at TSA is “a serious issue that can be addressed by increasing staffing to a more appropriate level,” Gage added.
“This whole situation highlights one of the major problems at TSA—that there is no uniformity within the agency,” Gage said. “This is just another example of federal security directors (FSD) at individual airports allowing their staff to set personnel policies separate from that of TSA itself.
“TSA is consistently ranked among, if not the worst in the federal government for employee morale and EEO complaints,” he continued. “If this agency is ever to turn itself around, it has got to get organized and stop allowing the FSDs to wield power over their employees.”