After years of pushing for new legislation, the American Federation of Government Employees—the only union to represent Transportation Security Administration employees—thanks the House of Representatives for putting as its first order of business voting on granting TSA officers (TSOs) collective bargaining, whistle blower, and appeal rights. AFGE held a press conference Wednesday to discuss what the decision means for TSOs and for the future of TSA.
AFGE worked closely with members of Congress, including Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) who spoke at Wednesday’s press event. Lowey authored the amendment concerning TSA worker rights.
Chairman Thompson thanked AFGE for keeping members of the House informed about issues of concern, including problems at TSA. Rep. Lowey echoed Thompson’s sentiments, stating that AFGE was “invaluable” in helping get the bill passed. Both Thompson and Lowey stressed the importance of getting companion legislation passed in the Senate.
The House voted Tuesday on the 9/11 Commission Bill, which includes repeal of a footnote of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), which called for all TSA employees to have the same basic labor protections of other federal workers. However, a footnote in the ATSA allowed for the TSA Administrator to deny TSOs collective bargaining, civil service, and whistleblower protections.
“By repealing the ATSA footnote, the House can ensure that TSA will no longer be allowed to deny its workers basic civil service rights,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “TSA has subjected its employees to discrimination, retaliation, adverse actions, mandatory overtime, and fear of coming forth to report problems. It’s time to put an end to TSA’s bullying.
“TSA has the highest injury and attrition rates in the federal government,” Gage added. “By allowing for collective bargaining, whistle blower protection and appeal rights, the House bill will help improve security by stabilizing the workforce and improving morale.”
AFGE thanks Thompson, Lowey, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and all the congressmen and women who are in favor of collective bargaining for one of our nation’s most valued group of employees.