Thompson, Lowey Introduce Bill to Improve TSA Frontline Workforce
May 3, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, along with Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Appropriations, introduced legislation to ensure that the more than 44,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) who serve on the frontlines at our airports are provided basic Federal workplace protections and rights that are provided to other Federal employees under Title 5 of the U.S. Code. These protections include collective bargaining, whistleblower protections, and protections against discrimination based on age or handicap. Today, TSOs do not have the right to appeal adverse personnel decisions to the Merit Systems Protection Board and are subject to a compensation system that bears little resemblance to the well-established General Services wage system. The “Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2017” (H.R. 2309) will ensure that TSOs are afforded the rights and protections as most other Federal employees.
This legislation is introduced the same day that Republicans passed new legislation on a party line vote in Committee to that is predicated on false notions that there is rampant misconduct at TSA. The Republican “Strengthening Oversight of TSA Employee Misconduct Act” (H.R. 1351) would force the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish a new and unfunded unannounced inspection program that would have inspectors travel to over 400 airports to review misconduct administration records. There is no data to support the need for TSOs to be singled out for additional misconduct oversight over and above the systems that already in place to deal with these matters within TSA, DHS, and the DHS Office of Inspector General. Management and misconduct challenges within TSA are often of TSA’s own making since it has a personnel and disciplinary system that is different than what exists elsewhere in the Federal government. Enactment of the “Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2017” would ensure that TSOs are subject to a more predictable and fair disciplinary system.
“Implementing basic worker protections for those charged with protecting our skies is a necessary step to increase security and improve workforce morale,” said Congressman Thompson. “TSA’s current personnel system has not served the agency well and lacks the means to attract and retain a strong workforce. This legislation we introduced today will ensure TSA’s personnel and labor management systems are brought in line with the rest of the federal government under Title 5. I hope my colleagues will agree that these frontline security workers should receive the rights and benefits they have earned.”
“More than 44,000 Transportation Security Officers who serve on the front lines of aviation security at airports across the United States are denied worker rights and protections, including full collective bargaining, the right to a fair grievance and arbitration system, and statutory civil rights protections,” added Congresswoman Lowey. “Transportation Security Officers should be treated like their fellow employees across the Federal government. Our bill grants TSOs these rights and enhances America’s security by retaining experienced and dedicated officers with improved workforce morale. To truly provide comprehensive transportation security, we must take care of those who take care of us.”