Photo credit: Jim Lambert/Shutterstock uly 27, 2019. Travelers in long lines at Denver International Airport going thru the Transportation Security Administrations (TSA) security screening areas to get to their flights.

WH orders TSA to facilitate union, raise screener pay

The White House has ordered the Transportation Security Administration to immediately move to enhance the status of union representation already in place at the agency—and, as reported by Federal News Network in detail, to negotiate a new contract and develop a system of higher pay for screeners. 

The aim is to create a more fairly treated and paid workforce, according to officials and union leaders. A further goal to engineer a more efficient and able agency that would come with one more in keeping with General Schedule compensation and merit protections afforded most feds, but—to date—not TSA screeners. 

TSA—with 60,000-plus employees tasked to protect the country’s transportation systems as well as the public that uses them—was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to specifically sidestep the GS pay scale and its merit protections mechanisms. At the time, rapid hiring and lots of top-down authority were thought to be more important than fairness. But in the years since, there is wide agreement that officers in the agency, and the mission, suffer from low pay and morale. 

Federal labor organizations are embracing the move—led by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA employees. “AFGE members have been fighting for nearly two decades to put an end to the system of separate and unequal treatment that the government has imposed on Transportation Security Officers (TSOs),” Everett Kelley, president of the union, said in an emailed statement. “This is a win for equity and a defeat for the inexcusable history of disparate treatment of TSOs. It is extraordinarily gratifying to see such a significant victory today for our union and for these incredible public servants.” 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued orders this week furthering the administration’s goals on the issue—and, just as it is moving administratively, the White House is also throwing renewed support behind accomplishing the same pro-labor aims—and more—by way of Congress, if possible. The Rights for the TSA Workforce Act remains pending on Capitol Hill.

2021 Digital Almanac

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