(WASHINGTON)— In his opening statement during markup of the Transportation Workforce Enhancement Act of 2009, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair recognized the more than 30 American Federation of Government Employees Transportation Security Officer members who were present, stating that the collective bargaining rights being denied the TSA workforce are “long overdue.” The Committee favorably reported out the bill, H.R. 1881, which now will go before the full House for a vote.
AFGE today thanked Chairman Towns and the other 18 Committee members who voted in favor of the bill, and shared its gratitude for the 142cosponsors of H.R. 1881, which would grant Transportation Security Officers the same workplace protections as other federal workers, for their support and expressed its hopes for a swift markup on July 9.
H.R. 1881, the Transportation Security Workforce Enhancement Act, would give TSOs the right to bargain collectively for fair and uniform workplace rules. It would do away with TSA's highly subjective pay system, the Performance Accountability and Standards System (PASS), and would move TSOs under the General Schedule system, which covers most federal employees.
“PASS and many other TSA labor and employee relations practices that ignore federal worker rights need to go,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “It is essential that TSOs are afforded the same rights to negotiate over important workplace issues, due process, whistleblower protections, veterans' preference, appropriate salaries, fair pay increases, and leave policies as other federal workers—including other Department of Homeland Security employees—such as those working for the Border Patrol, FEMA, and Coast Guard—all of whom are represented by AFGE.”
AFGE for years has argued for moving TSOs to the GS system, which has dedicated funding, unlike the PASS system of performance “bonuses” that vary from year to year even if the TSO receives the same performance rating. Salary increases under the GS system also become part of the base pay on which retirement pay is calculated. Under the PASS system, TSOs see thousands of dollars diverted from their pensions resulting in the devaluation of their pensions and does not provide an incentive to make a job at TSA a career. This contributes to the excessively high TSO attrition rate and agency training costs.
AFGE has represented the TSA workforce since the agency was created in 2001. The union currently has more than 11,000 dues-paying TSA members in 33 Locals nationwide.