WASHINGTON— New legislationthat would grant Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) equal workplace rights passed the House on Thursday. The “Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act” (H.R. 1140), re-introduced by Representatives Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Nita Lowey (N.Y.) in 2019, will extend full collective bargaining rights to TSOs and ensure the nation’s airport security officers have the same workplace protections as other federal workers.
The union representing 45,000 TSA officers nationwide, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), has been fighting for fair pay, labor protections, and benefits for TSOs since the agency’s creation.
The bill, that was first introduced in the 111th Congress, is long overdue for TSA officers who are among the lowest paid federal workers and are not on the same pay scale as their Department of Homeland Security counterparts. This legislation will boost TSA pay by putting TSOs on the General Schedule pay scale.
“This is a huge win for the hardworking women and men who risk their lives to ensure we reach our travel destinations safely,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “For years, our union and our TSA activists have worked tirelessly to get the much-needed workplace protections they deserve.”
Over the years, AFGE TSOs made calls, visited their lawmakers during their free time, and built strong congressional support.
“We reached out to our lawmakers and really made the case for why TSOs deserve equal due process rights and fair pay,” said AFGE TSA Council 100 President Hydrick Thomas. “This bill has been a long time in the making for our officers. We’ll finally be able to improve workplace conditions and lift the low morale that has haunted the agency for years.”
Despite today’s vote in favor of TSA officers, the White House has threatened to veto this legislation if it reaches the president’s desk.
“The president should not stand in the way of TSOs getting equal treatment under the law,” said Kelley. “TSA officers took an oath to protect us— it is our duty as a country to ensure that they are, in turn, protected at work.”
AFGE thanks Representatives Thompson and Lowey for their continuous support of TSA officers. We urge the Senate to follow in the House’s footsteps and pass the Senate companion bill, the “Strengthening American Transportation Security Act” (S. 944).