WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) enthusiastically supports the Strengthening American Transportation Security Act of 2016 (SATSA), introduced on Dec. 8 by Sen. Brian Schatz (HI). The act would improve passenger safety and grant Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) the same workplace rights as all federal employees, including their colleagues in the Department of Homeland Security.
“We are thankful for the support TSA officers have received from Sen. Schatz and the cosponsors of this bill,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “TSA officers ensure air travelers reach their destinations safely and have stopped more than 3,000 firearms from getting on planes this year alone. It is outrageous that, despite shouldering this heavy responsibility, they lack the same workplace rights as other federal employees.”
“Transportation Security Officers are the essential federal workers who screen baggage, staff checkpoints at our airports, and play a critical role in maintaining the safety of our aviation transportation system,” said Sen. Schatz. “We must address inequities and inconsistencies in federal aviation employee treatment in order to provide Americans the highest level of aviation transportation safety. My bill will ensure greater fairness and uniformity in federal employee protections and help improve the morale, stability, and performance of our vital transportation screening workforce.”
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Al Franken (MN), Jeff Merkley (OR), Gary Peters (MI), Jon Tester (MT), and Martin Heinrich (NM).
TSA Officers are a critical part of our country’s security framework and screen over 1.7 million passengers daily. The new bill would put workers on the General Schedule pay scale and provide them with much needed statutory worker protections like the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Providing TSA workers 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.
“Morale for TSA Officers is plummeting while employee turnover is on the rise,” said AFGE TSA Council President Hydrick Thomas. “Public safety is the top priority of the TSA Officer workforce. We work very hard under some of the most stressful and dangerous conditions, but aren’t valued at the workplace.”
AFGE urges Congress to pass the Strengthening American Transportation Security Act to make our airports more secure by providing workplace fairness to the TSA Officers who protect the flying public.