Legislation recently introduced in the House would move employees at the Transportation Security Administration to the General Schedule pay system.
H.R. 2309 was introduced by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and currently has 13 co-sponsors. It was introduced in a previous session of Congress but ultimately failed to advance.
According to Thompson, the bill would also grant Federal workplace protections to TSA employees that are currently granted to other federal workers including collective bargaining, whistleblower protections, and protections against discrimination based on age or handicap.
Employees at TSA are currently under a pay for performance system designed to reward employees with outstanding evaluations.
Charity Wilson, a legislative representative with the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that represents TSA, told Federal News Radio when the bill was last introduced that moving to the General Schedule system would be a positive change. According to Wilson, “There have been various forms of this pay-for-performance system over the years, and it has devolved down to the point where TSOs are getting the highest rating, but they’re not seeing it reflected in their paychecks at all. Under the General System, which includes a form of evaluation that is built into that system, there is transparency, fairness and stability that is currently lacking.”
AFGE was, of course, quick to laud introduction of the bill since the union backed it previously. National president J. David Cox, Sr. said in a statement, “We are thrilled that Representatives Thompson and Lowey have once again introduced legislation that will finally offer our officers the same rights and protections as the rest of the federal workforce. Equal treatment by the federal government is desperately needed and very appreciated by the men and women who make sure you can fly without fear.”
Congressman Thompson said in a statement:
Implementing basic worker protections for those charged with protecting our skies is a necessary step to increase security and improve workforce morale. TSA’s current personnel system has not served the agency well and lacks the means to attract and retain a strong workforce. This legislation we introduced today will ensure TSA’s personnel and labor management systems are brought in line with the rest of the federal government under Title 5.
Not everyone agrees expanding collective bargaining rights to the TSA would be a good thing, however. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin wrote in an editorial last year when the issue came up before, “Expanding TSA workers’ collective bargaining rights is about expanding union bosses’ authority to dictate every last detail of employment — from pay and officer assignments to schedules and uniforms. The reason full bargaining rights under Title V of U.S. labor law have not been extended to TSA agents is to protect the agency’s flexibility and discretion in the interest of national security.”