(WASHINGTON) - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today lauded the Senate for passing the McCaskill Amendment that allows Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to have collective bargaining agreements, MSPB appeal rights and whistleblower protections.
“With the Senate vote, TSOs are one step closer to better working conditions,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “AFGE has tirelessly lobbied Congress for these rights since TSA’s inception. It’s about time these employees are shown some respect.
“Denial of the meaningful ability to enforce the most basic worker rights and persistent inadequate staffing have taken their toll on the TSO workforce,” Gage added. “TSOs are subject to extensive mandatory overtime, penalties for using accrued leave and constant scheduling changes because of understaffing. Another result is that TSA has among the highest injury, illness, and lost time rates in the federal government.
“This continuing mistreatment of the TSO workforce hampers the ability of TSOs to do their jobs and public safety is jeopardized,” Gage said. “We celebrate the Senate’s decision to support the men and women who protect our skies.
“There’s been a lot of talk about a presidential veto,” Gage said. “Following 9/11, President Bush expressed his support for New York Police Officers and Firefighters, both of which are unionized with collective bargaining. It would be a shame for the president to take back that support by denying their colleagues at TSA the same rights.
“The argument that providing TSOs with collective bargaining rights would hamper national security is an absurd notion that has no backing,” Gage added. “Border Patrol, Federal Protective Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Capitol Police all protect this nation, and all have bargaining rights. It is an insult to these men and women to insinuate that they are unable to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”
AFGE thanks Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and their colleagues for their dedication to these deserving employees.