Sometimes the smart thing to do and the right thing to do are one and the same. That’s the case with providing full rights to America’s 45,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs).
The TSOs, employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), keep travelers and personnel safe at airports across the country. But unlike virtually all federal workers, they are denied basic job protections, including the right to adequately appeal firings and suspensions.
This double standard is not only fundamentally unfair, it makes no sense. Isn’t it in the public interest to ensure that the people charged with securing our airports are treated well and able to do their jobs without the fear of arbitrary or unwarranted punishment?
As it stands, worker satisfaction and morale at TSA are chronically low, and no wonder. Knowing that you could be fired or suspended unfairly—and may not have the right to challenge such action—is not a recipe for a happy workforce. It is particularly disheartening when nearly all other federal employees are granted this fundamental right by U.S. law, including many in TSA’s management who oversee transportation operations. Why should there be a double standard for those who are on the ground each day protecting American passengers?
There’s a simple fix that could solve this problem, and it’s time for either the President or Congress to get it done. We need rules or legislation that require TSA to follow the same laws, regulation and guidance regarding its workforce as other federal agencies, including intelligence agencies and others within the Department of Homeland Security. The greater employee morale and efficiency at those agencies prove what we know to be true—that worker rights and protections need not be sacrificed in the name of safety.
Equal treatment for TSOs is both the smart thing, and the right thing to do.