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Largest Federal Workers Union ‘Praises’ The Biden Administration’s ‘Move To Expand’ Union Rights & Increase Pay For Transportation Security Administration Workers

Published Sunday, June 6, 2021
by AFGE News
Largest Federal Workers Union ‘Praises’ The Biden Administration’s ‘Move To Expand’ Union Rights & Increase Pay For Transportation Security Administration Workers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In what is being described as a major victory for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Workers, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has directed TSA Administrator David Pekoske to issue a new determination that expands Union Rights for TSA Workers, ensures fairness and due process by extending access for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to the Merit Systems Protection Board, opening the Union contract for renegotiation, and altering the pay system so that it is consistent with the General Schedule locality structure that covers most Federal 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 TSOs.  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 for our Union and for these incredible public servants,” said Everett Kelley, who serves as National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest Union representing 700,000 Federal Workers and nearly 46,000 TSA Officers nationwide.

“Throughout this pandemic TSA Officers have performed heroically on the front lines, keeping air travel safe for the flying public in spite of low pay and difficult working conditions and even when doing so presented a great risk to their own personal health and safety,” Kelley continued.  “There’s never been a reason to deny them the same Union and Civil Service Rights as their counterparts in other agencies, and there is no doubt that these brave Workers have more than earned the pay guarantees of the Federal Locality Pay System - including the guarantees against pay discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation or other differences."

When the TSA was established in 2001, only TSOs were excluded from protections they would normally have received under Title 5 of the U.S. Code, which lays out the conditions for employment of most Federal Workers.

Instead, just one group within TSA, Airport Security Screeners or TSOs, are treated under the law as inferiors and are subject to a “determination” of their rights subject to policies issued by the TSA Administrator.

It is this determination that the Biden Administration will change, broadening Union Rights and bringing TSO pay in line with that of their fellow Federal Employees.

“We’ve been in this battle for nearly twenty years,” said Hydrick Thomas, who serves as President of AFGE’s Council 100, which represents nearly 46,000 TSA Officers nationwide. “Especially during the last year, it’s been hard for people on the front lines battling the pandemic, short staffing, low pay and unequal rights.  With our Union winning this major victory, it’s not just going to help the Workers by giving them more rights and better pay, it’s going to help reduce turnover so that the agency can benefit from experienced officers’ expertise.”

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