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Legislative Updates

House votes to expand worker rights for TSA employees

The House of Representatives voted to expand worker protections for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers today, which would grant them the rights and protections other federal employees hold. The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2020 (H.R. 1140) passed the House in a 230-171 vote with 14 Republicans joining Democrats in support of TSA workers’ rights.

Introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and House Committee on Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), the bill would Title 5 rights to all TSA employees. This includes full collective bargaining rights, due process and whistleblower protections, and would tie TSA worker pay to the General Schedule.

TSA employees are among the lowest paid federal workers and currently lack the freedom to join together and negotiate over their pay and benefits. While the bill faces a difficult path in the Senate, passage of this legislation is an important statement of intent.

“Transportation security officers are subject to an antiquated system that does not provide appropriate pay, regular salary increases or basic civil service protections” said Rep. Thompson. “Further, an employee subject to a disciplinary action does not have the right to appeal to an independent third party such as the Merit Systems Protections Board... According to a former TSA deputy administrator, that lack of a due process protection has bred a culture of retribution and arbitrary personnel practices, leading to misbehavior and a reluctance to report security vulnerabilities.”

While this bill has no direct impact on letter carriers, NALC supports efforts such as this one that seek to expand collective bargaining and other rights to uncovered workers. NALC will continue to monitor this bill as it proceeds to the Senate and keep letter carriers inform on any movement.

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