Officers working for the Transportation Security Administration are not covered under the same workforce management provisions as the majority of the federal workforce, but legislation that passed the House March 5 would extend the pay and protections offered to most federal employees to those at TSA as well.
The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act would eliminate the personnel authorities granted to the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation, automatically moving TSA employees over to the General Schedule. Those agencies would be required to consult with labor organizations about the transition while maintaining the same pay rates, leave and other rights of those employees.
“I am pleased this bipartisan legislation passed the House of Representatives today. Transportation Security Officers ensure the safety of the American people on a daily basis, and they ought to have the same federal worker protections as other federal employees under Title 5 of the U.S. Code,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., in a statement.
“In addition to expanded worker protections, this legislation would increase salaries for many TSA employees. I strongly support this legislation and will urge my colleagues in the Senate to consider it quickly. Federal employees work hard to serve their nation each and every day, and providing fair pay and benefits is essential to recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce."
The House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security looked at challenges plaguing the TSA workforce.
TSA employee pay is currently covered by an SV grading system that establishes pay bands for its employees on an A through M scale.
A May 2019 Blue Ribbon Panel report on human capital at TSA noted that low pay was a “systemic” problem at the agency, as “TSO annual pay in some locations lags well behind industry counterparts,” while “officers work long hours, have difficult working conditions and are the backbone of the TSA mission.”
According to the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents around 45,000 TSA officers nationwide, TSA officers are some of the lowest paid salaried federal employees.
“This is a huge win for the hardworking women and men who risk their lives to ensure we reach our travel destinations safely,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley in a statement.
“For years, our union and our TSA activists have worked tirelessly to get the much-needed workplace protections they deserve.”