The House has approved HR-1140, a bill to repeal many of the restrictions on union and appeal rights for TSA screeners and end the separate pay system for them.
The measure – passed largely along party lines at 230-171, is designed to place screeners in the standard Title 5 body of federal personnel law, moving them into the GS pay system—with a guarantee of no reduction in pay and a projection that many would receive raises—and giving them the same collective bargaining rights and MSPB appeal rights as federal employees in general.
The current policies, imposed when the TSA was created in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, have been criticized by the AFGE union which represents them and by many congressional Democrats as contributing to the traditionally high turnover and low employee satisfaction at the agency.
However, in a message to Congress, the White House threatened to veto the bill should it reach the president’s desk. It said that the current law “provides the flexibility TSA needs so that it can quickly and efficiently adjust its workforce management to respond to emerging threats or national emergencies.”
It also cited a special commission on the TSA that reported last year on recruitment and retention of screeners; that commission said that while pay is a main issue, it did not recommend moving them into the GS system but rather said the agency should make more use of the flexibilities over pay it already has.