The Biden administration says it is moving to increase pay and union rights for security checkers at the nation’s airports
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration said Thursday it is moving to increase pay and union rights for security checkers at the nation’s airports.
Announcing the plan, DHS Secretary Alejandro Meyercas said, “TSA employees are outstanding public servants who work on the frontlines, including during the pandemic, to keep the traveling American public safe.” “They deserve the empowerment of collective bargaining and a compensation structure that recognizes and rewards them for their contribution to our safety and security.”
Low wages and benefits compared to other federal employees have contributed to morale problems and high turnover among the nation’s 46,000 TSA workers, who at the time of the agency’s inception as a component of the DHS received the normal schedule pay scale and those of most other federal workers. Personnel were excluded from the system. .
The American Federation of Government Employees and members of Congress have long put forward legislation that would put TSA officers on a par with the rest of federal employees.
“We’re just asking to be on the same scale as everyone else. We’re not asking for anything different,” said Hydrick Thomas, president of AFGE’s Council 100, which represents TSA officials nationwide.
The annual salary for TSA officers ranges from $35,000-$39,000 and tops out at $43,000. An employee of Customs and Border Protection at the same airport will earn $60,000-$80,000 after six years and have a better retirement and other benefits, said Thomas, who is also an officer at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City.
“TSA are frontline workers too,” he said. “Every day we wear the uniform, we harm ourselves.”
With the actions being taken by the Biden administration, TSA officers still won’t be on the same level with other federal employees.
When Congress established the TSA, it gave agency administrators broad authority over workforce procedures, discipline, and compensation. That is not changing with the directive announced on Thursday.
In the memo setting out administrative actions, Meyerkas said the pay of TSA officers should be “no less” than their counterparts in the federal workforce. They would be given new access to complaints procedures, but their collective bargaining rights would only “closely mirror” those provided under the law to other federal employees.
Meyerkas said he has instructed the acting TSA administrator to work with the American Federation of Government Employees on a new collective bargaining agreement with non-supervisory members of the workforce.
It would be “similar” to other federal agencies, but the new agreement would preserve “the TSA’s ability to fulfill its critical security mission,” he said, without providing further details.
A bill in Congress, which has twice been passed before the House but not considered by the Senate, would put TSA officers on a common schedule with other federal activists, giving them access to an independent third party for dispute resolution. will provide and ensure measures. The new administration under Biden cannot be undone. Federal workers do not have the right to strike.
One of the law’s authors, Rep. Benny Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the Homeland Security committee, said the new action by the Biden administration is “significant progress” but not enough. “TSA frontline officers have been paid too little and have been denied basic workplace rights for too long,” he said.