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TSA Workers One Step Closer to Getting the Rights Promised to All Federal Workers

TSA workers would get collective bargaining rights and whistle blower protections under the bill. Photo: Avel Chuklanov @chuklanov
TSA workers would get collective bargaining rights and whistle blower protections under the bill. Photo: Avel Chuklanov @chuklanov

The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act of 2020 passed with a 230-171 vote on the House floor yesterday.

The bill would allow TSA workers to be protected under Title 5 of the U.S. Code, giving them full bargaining rights and whistle blower protections. 

Representative Val Demings who voted for the bill said she was assigned to Orlando International Airport after September 11th.

She says it was there that she witnessed TSA workers' dedication to keeping Americans safe, even if it meant putting their own lives at risk.

“They are the front line workers who worked through a government shutdown without being paid to keep America safe. They are still showing up today each of them interacting with thousands of passengers even as we face a public health crisis.”

In a statement, Representative Darren Soto who also voted for the bill agreed with this need for basic protections.

"For far too long, our TSO workers have been denied basic worker rights and protections, while fighting to keep our skies safe and our Central Florida community free from harm," Soto said.

But there is some opposition to the bill by the TSA itself.

In a statement released on March 2, the agency said only the current personnel system provides, "the flexibility TSA needs to quickly and efficiently adjust its workforce management to respond to emerging threats or national emergencies."

The agency supports giving workers competitive compensation and benefits through a raise proposed in President Donald Trump's annual budget.

If the bill passes a vote in the Senate, it will end up on Trump's desk for final approval.

TSA workers at MCO along with TSA workers across the country went unpaid for 35 days during the longest federal shutdown in American history last year.

The agency denied that the shutdown and a toxic workplace culture at the airport contributed to the suicide of TSO Rob Henry at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on February 2, 2019.

A WMFE investigation found that Henry had been bullied leading up to his death.
You can track the bill's progression through Congress here.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.