baggage scans (MicroOne/

Union rights cleared for takeoff at TSA

Transportation Security Administration employees are on a faster roll toward achieving union rights on a par with other feds—that goal arguably closer now than any point since the agency’s creation, and in recent weeks gaining still more momentum. 

In early June, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas signed a memo officially instructing TSA top management to get cracking on developing—and we quote here—“expanding collective bargaining rights,” “providing appeals rights” to the Merit Systems Protection Board, and ensuring that “TSA screeners are paid at a level no less than that of their counterparts on the General Schedule pay scale.” 

Now, toward the end of July, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) reports TSA has signaled it is speeding these processes along. 

“Our union remains adamant in our stance that TSOs deserve full workplace protections, significantly better pay to retain officers and attract new ones, and unconditional access to appeals at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB),” AFGE said, reiterating its long-sought goals for agency employees, in a July 19 release

The news from TSA? The union says it has heard back from the agency confirming that the wheels are finally turning on normalizing collective bargaining at the agency, in compliance with the DHS secretary’s order. 

“TSA Administrator David Pekoske has informed us that as a result of DHS’s directive, the agency is currently negotiating an agreement with the MSPB for TSO appeal rights,” the union continued. ”We will use every avenue available to us to expand fair appeal and workplace rights for TSA officers who keep us safe as we fly.”

AFGE said the recent moves ultimately will be ”great for our members,” but it reiterated that ”in order for fair workplace rights to become permanent for current and future TSOs, Congress must pass the Rights for the Transportation Security Administration Workforce Act”--and implored feds to sign on to an email pressing lawmakers to pass the bill. 

“Thanks to our union,” the AFGE release states, accentuating that the current flurry of activity follows years of organized effort, “TSA officers are one giant step closer to getting the expanded union rights they deserve.”

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