July 22, 2008
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Calls for Standardized Pay and Training for All Transportation Security Officers

(WASHINGTON) – American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage gave testimony today before the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, detailing the alarming inconsistencies running rampant at the TSA.

“TSA consistently ranks at the bottom of any survey of employee morale in the federal government,” said Gage. “This workforce is too important to be treated so callously.”

Despite the public’s call for a federalized, well-trained and well-compensated screener workforce, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) continue to be drastically underpaid – around $30,000 annually, which is woefully less than their counterparts in other law enforcement positions at the Department of Homeland Security. Compounding the sting of low pay, TSOs also are subject to a pay-for performance system (PASS) that is in constant flux due to constant TSA adjustments – a system that employees believe is based on favoritism, not performance.

To make matters worse, TSA Administrator Hawley recently admitted that TSOs are being “trained and tested on different standards, and these standards do not reflect how” TSOs do their jobs.

“Unfortunately, TSOs still have limited access to image test training, the new training software is not available at all airports and in some cases does not work, and trainers have given wrong information about identifying “threat” objects during the test which directly led to test failure,” said Gage.

“TSOs with excellent work histories and commendations have been told they would lose their jobs because of failing to pass this testing,” continued Gage. “But instead of correcting the test and properly training TSOs, the agency regrettably has come up with another policy that continues to hold previous test failures against TSOs, and allows management to ‘retain and retrain’ whomever they want, making the ‘new and improved’ image testing more unfair than it was before.”

“These workers need a rational pay system before the attrition rate climbs any higher,” concluded Gage. “AFGE urges the subcommittee to end the PASS system, and instead place TSOs under the General Schedule that applies to other federal workers, including their colleagues throughout DHS.”

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