(WASHINGTON)- The Transportation Security Administration’s ranking as the worst place to work within the Department of Homeland Security should come as no surprise, the American Federation of Government Employees said today in response to the Partnership for Public Service’s annual Best Places to Work survey. “After all,” said AFGE National President John Gage, “this agency has the unique distinction of clinging to the bottom of the barrel for many years now.”
TSA has a proven pattern of showing little to no concern for its employees. Most recently, in the midst of the H1N1 flu outbreak, TSOs across the country have been denied the use of routine precautionary measures granted to other DHS workers whose work brings them into close proximity with airline passengers and crew. In spite of AFGE’s demand that TSA outfit TSOs with protective gear and put affected TSOs on administrative leave, in typical TSA fashion, acting TSA administrator Gale Rossides responded almost three weeks later, stating that TSOs were safe using “gloves and hand sanitizer” and could follow “standard leave practices”—the very practices that often result in a TSO automatically being written up for a single instance of unscheduled leave, no matter the reason.
“TSA routinely denies its employees basic workplace protections,” Gage said. “Before the flu emergency, it was uniforms laden with formaldehyde and a refusal by TSA to replace the uniforms or to give TSOs the same uniform allowance other DHS workers receive. Before that, it was retaliation for filing workers compensation claims after being injured on the job.
“For nearly eight years, AFGE has represented TSOs on issues of health and safety, discrimination, selective hiring practices, nepotism, management intimidation, and reports of lax oversight at the agency,” Gage said. “The fact is that the Partnership for Public Service survey results track with what AFGE has been hearing from TSOs for years. In the five ‘effective leadership’ categories, the average ranking was less than 40 percent. That is totally unacceptable and reveals the clear lack of trust and respect TSOs have for their managers.
“What will it take for DHS to get the message? A new TSA administrator should immediately be appointed, and that person’s first order of business must be to institute full collective bargaining rights at the agency,” Gage added.
In the meantime, AFGE is actively working with Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., to seek cosponsors for H.R. 1881, legislation that grants Transportation Security Officers the same collective bargaining rights and workforce protections as other federal workers and ends TSA’s flawed and unfair Performance and Accountability Standards System.