It might not be widely known among the general population of Texas and the rest of the U.S. that employees of the Transportation Security Administration don’t have quite the same rights as workers of most other federal agencies.
For example, even though some 70 percent of TSA employees are have union representation through the American Federation of Government Employees, they don’t have the same bargaining rights as employees with other federal agencies. They also don’t have the same rights as other workers to due process in appealing employee disputes to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The reason that this situation exists is because the TSA is considered one of the so-called excepted services. That’s a designation that tends to be attached to positions considered to be of particular importance to national security.
Efforts to provide basic worker protections to Transportation Security Officers have been made by Congress at various times since the TSA was first created. Few have succeeded. Now a new effort is being made, but questions remain as to whether this one will have any more success than those that went before.
It’s called the 2016 Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act. Ranking Democrats of the House Homeland Security Committee introduced the legislation early last month.
The provisions of the measure call for granting 40,000 TSOs the same status as other employees who fall under the Title 5 heading. The bill’s authors say employee tenure and status as it relates to such benefits as leave, pay, insurance and severance pay would get new emphasis and adverse job actions would be appealable to the MSPB.
The bill has strong support from union officials, but one has to wonder how it will fare considering past efforts and the Republican control of Congress.