(WASHINGTON) - As the only union representing the Transportation Security Administration workforce, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today applauds the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for including in its 9/11 Commission Bill an amendment providing Transportation Security Administration officers (TSOs) collective bargaining and appeal rights.
"AFGE thanks Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) for introducing this very important amendment that will provide stability to the workforce that TSA and the flying public so desperately need," AFGE National President John Gage said.
Gage met earlier this week with Sen. Lieberman to discuss the importance of including, and getting passed the TSA amendment. In that meeting, Gage introduced to Lieberman a TSO from New Haven, Conn., who offered first-hand experiences as to why collective bargaining and other rights are necessary for TSOs. AFGE has lobbied Congress for such rights since TSA’s inception.
AFGE worked closely with House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) to ensure that a similar amendment passed in the House’s version of the bill. And earlier this week, after working closely with other members of a prominent Whistleblower Coalition, AFGE ensured that specific language covering TSOs was included in the House’s Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.
TSA was created under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) in 2001. As in the House bill, the Senate amendment repeals a footnote in the ATSA that allowed for the TSA administrator to have sole authority over deciding on the issue of union and other labor rights for the TSOs. As a result of that authority, TSOs currently are deprived of collective bargaining and appeal rights. Not coincidentally, TSA leads the federal agencies in attrition and injury rates and discrimination complaints.
"With no protections, TSO’s are subject to workplace discrimination, retaliation, adverse actions, unscheduled mandatory overtime and fear of speaking out on issues of security," Gage said. "AFGE has been the only union to provide representation before the Disciplinary Review Board, EEOC, courts, in Congress and in the media."
"AFGE is proud to represent the men and women who protect our nation’s skies, and thanks the Senate Committee members who voted in favor of protecting these dedicated workers," Gage added.