(WASHINGTON)—The American Federation of Government Employees—the union for TSA workers across the country— has heard from its Transportation Security Officer members that while most passengers are understanding of the new TSA security procedures and recognize that TSOs are not the ones who created those procedures, there have been a few instances where passengers have become angry, belligerent and even physical with TSOs. In Indianapolis, for example, a TSO was punched by a passenger who didn’t like the new screening process.
“AFGE agrees that strong security measures need to be in place and evolve as threats come anew, but the general public needs to know what the security procedures are and what their rights are as citizens,” AFGE National President John Gage added. “TSA must do a better job explaining these measures to the flying public. This absence of information has resulted in a backlash against the character and professionalism of TSOs based on a few widely reported but largely ill-founded claims repeated over and over again by the media.”
AFGE further called on TSA to provide an educational pamphlet to each passenger on the new procedures and what the passenger rights are.
“Like all Americans, TSOs deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. These men and women are the first line of defense against those who seek to harm this country,” Gage said. “It is unacceptable for any passenger to verbally or physically assault any security officers, and TSA must act now—before the Thanksgiving rush— to ensure that TSOs are not being left to fend for themselves.”
AFGE is the only union to represent TSOs since the agency’s inception, and currently has more than 12,000 dues-paying members in 38 AFGE TSA Locals across the country.