Fedweek

coronavirus federal employees relief bill stimulus pay and benefits

DHS has moved to end the separate pay and union-related policies that have applied to its subcomponent TSA at management’s discretion since that agency was created in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

That would largely achieve through administrative action changes that federal unions—especially the AFGE union, which represents the bulk of TSA—and many congressional Democrats have been pursuing for years. Most recently, the House Homeland Security Committee held hearings on the latest of a series of bills (HR-903) to achieve that end, which the House passed twice in the prior Congress but which died in the Senate.

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DHS said that it will expand the scope of bargaining at TSA to make it “similar to bargaining that occurs at other federal agencies while preserving TSA’s ability to meet its critical security mission” and that it will reopen bargaining with the AFGE, although it provided no timeline for those actions.

The TSA also is to “prepare a plan that is consistent with providing fair compensation”—likely meaning replacing the agency’s pay-for-performance system with something more like the standard GS system—and is to “continue to evaluate personnel policies, including appeal procedures, for potential changes to better support the workforce,” the announcement said, again setting no timeline.

While praising the decision, the AFGE and bill sponsor Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the Homeland Security Committee, said they will continue to push for to change the law to prevent a future administration from changing direction.

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