WASHINGTON – Today, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National President J. David Cox Sr. testified before the House Homeland Security Committee at a hearing titled “The Future of the Transportation Security Administration.”
Speaking on behalf of the 670,000 government workers – including 40,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) – represented by AFGE, Cox emphasized the critical role TSA Officers play in national security, and called attention to the daily challenges and threats they face. Cox underscored the level of safety and security offered by TSA by citing the record number of weapon seizures at security checkpoints in 2016. He also said TSOs deserved credit for stopping a potential crisis last summer, when the understaffed agency faced a historic number of travelers at airports across the country.
“No discussion of the future of TSA is complete without the voice of the TSO workforce. TSOs are the most visible of TSA’s components, the most likely to be blamed for any perceived failures on the part of the agency and the last to receive credit from the public or their employer for a job well done,” said Cox.
In his testimony, Cox went on to call the fundamental workplace rights and protections offered to Transportation Security Officers “an affront to all civil servants” and asked the members of the Committee to support reintroduction of legislation from Representatives Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Nita Lowey of New York, and Senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon that would give working people at the agency equal rights under the law.
“It continues to be imperative that the duties of airport screening be performed by federal government employees, and that these employees be provided adequate resources to do their jobs,” Cox said, referring to the continued threat to air and airport security. “Congress must provide the oversight necessary to hold TSA accountable for adequate staffing to ensure security and reduce wait times.”
“I call on the members of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to not only sponsor, but favorably report out the Rights for Transportation Security Employees Act and the Strengthening American Transportation Security Act,” he said.
Cox concluded his testimony by asking Congress to “send President Trump a bill strengthening aviation security through rights for Transportation employees."