Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske to align employees’ rights with those enjoyed by the vast majority of federal workers, including access to the General Schedule pay system.
The change reflects the more labor-friendly approach of President Joe Biden, granting a long-standing goal of workers at an agency created to improve airport security after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The pay raise alone would not appear to cause any objections and that will easily earn passage, but the full endowment into Title 5 would guarantee collective bargaining and this may be a sticking point to grant Title 5 rights to TSA staff since it was specifically rejected by Congress when the TSA was originally established..
As a quasi-law enforcement organization, the federal law enforcement officer or a full-time municipal, county, state, tribal or territorial law enforcement officer who is a direct government agency employee.
- Be sworn and commissioned to enforce criminal or immigration statutes.
- Be authorized by the employing agency to have the weapon in connection with assigned duties.
- Have completed the TSA Law Enforcement Officer Flying Armed Training Course.
“I believe wholeheartedly they are underpaid,” Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), the subcommittee’s ranking member, said. “We as Congress should be appropriating more money for TSO workers so we can bump them up in pay and bring them up to the level that most federal employees are getting, because I do think that that’s part of the problem.”
When Congress first created TSA nearly 20 years ago, it specifically excluded TSOs from the General Schedule pay scale and Title 5 personnel system, which many — but not all — other federal employees are classified under today.
Jeff Neal, former chairman of the TSA blue-ribbon panel, said his team also found no evidence that moving TSOs to the General Schedule would resolve their frustrations and improve workforce morale.
“When we looked at employee survey data at TSA, what we found is that there were some airports where the workforce had good things to say about TSA and about the work,” he said. “And there were airports where people were doing the same work and were incredibly unhappy. Obviously pay is a factor in that, but the quality of supervisors is a bigger factor.”
Under Mayorkas’ directive, Pekoske must permit TSA employees to collectively bargain “to the same extent as permitted” by most other federal workers, allow employees to file appeals with the Merit Systems Protections Board, and ensure that screeners “are paid at a level that is no less than that of their counterparts on the General Schedule pay scale.”