(WASHINGTON) - After working closely with other members of a prominent Whistleblower Coalition, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) was instrumental in ensuring that specific language covering Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) was included in the bipartisan Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (H.R. 985) introduced today in the House of Representatives.
“Whistleblower protection is essential for TSA employees, who currently have no protection against management retaliation when they bring to light breaches of security or other wrongdoings,” Gage said. “It is imperative for the safety of this nation that these employees feel free to speak out on issue of security.”
H.R.985 closes loopholes in existing law that have made it nearly impossible for all federal employees to enforce their whistleblower protections when they face retaliation from supervisors for reporting wrongdoing. Unlike other federal employees, TSOs currently do not have an individual right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board for an independent, neutral review of whether the termination was unlawfully retaliatory for protected whistleblowing activity. Even when TSOs report retaliation to the Office of Special Counsel, the OSC can only make non-binding recommendations to TSA.
“Affording TSA employees whistleblower rights is a must for the agency to stave off its unparalleled attrition rate,” Gage said. “TSA has an attrition rate of almost 30 percent, compared to an average of four or five percent in other federal agencies. With that level of turnover, the professional, experienced workforce needed to protect our skies is unattainable.”
“AFGE thanks Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Todd Platts (R-Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) for introducing the bill,” Gage said. “This is a huge accomplishment, and we look forward to this legislation becoming law.”
As the only union representing TSOs, AFGE recently worked with members of the House of Representatives to get passed a bill that would grant TSA employees collective bargaining and appeal rights. AFGE currently is lobbying members of the Senate to pass a similar bill.