WASHINGTON— Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are one step closer to receiving equal workplace rights. The “Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act” (H.R. 1140), re-introduced by Representatives Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Nita Lowey (N.Y.) in 2019, passed the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. The law would give TSOs equal collective bargaining rights and finally ensure these officers have the same workplace rights as other federal workers.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union representing 45,000 TSA officers nationwide, has been fighting for fair workplace rights and protections for TSA officers since the agency’s creation after 9/11.
“It’s past time we protect these public servants who risk their lives every day to help us reach our destinations safely,” said AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley.
“The road for H.R. 1140, the ‘Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act,’ has been a long one,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson in his opening statement at Wednesday’s committee markup. “The frontline workforce at TSA has been waiting for nearly two decades to get the rights, compensation, and protections that most other federal workers take for granted. Under H.R. 1140, that would happen.”
TSA officers are among the lowest paid federal workers and are not on the same pay scale as their Department of Homeland Security counterparts.
This new legislation, with unprecedented bipartisan support, would put TSA officers on the General Schedule pay scale and provide them with much-needed statutory worker protections against unfair labor practices. Providing TSOs with the same rights as other federal employees will improve workplace conditions, lift the agency’s dismally low employee morale, and decrease the high turnover rate for officers.
“We have answered the call of duty time and time again,” said AFGE TSA Council 100 President Hydrick Thomas. “Last year we stopped a record-setting 4,432 total firearms from getting on our airplanes, despite having to work without pay for 35 days during the shutdown. We aren’t asking for better treatment— just equal treatment.”
AFGE is thankful for Representatives Thompson and Lowey for their continuous support of TSA officers. This legislation would help make our airports more secure by providing workplace fairness to the TSA officers who protect the flying public.
“We have some challenging steps ahead to ensure this legislation becomes law, but this is a huge move forward,” said Kelley. “We urge lawmakers to support H.R. 1140.”