Tsa weather and safety leave

Tsa weather and safety leave DEFAULT

Senior Democrats in the House last week reintroduced a bill that would grant employees at the Transportation Security Administration the rights and protections already guaranteed to the vast majority of the federal workforce.

The Rights for the Transportation Security Administration Workforce Act (H.R. ), introduced by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., would ensure all employees at the TSA are covered under Title 5 of the U.S. Code, which lays out federal workers’ due process and collective bargaining protections.

When Congress first established the TSA following the September 11, terrorist attacks, it exempted the agency from Title 5, giving it broad latitude to determine employees’ pay and benefits, as well as to discipline and fire workers. Employees there were not allowed to unionize until , and even now have only abridged collective bargaining rights compared with the rest of the federal workforce.

Under the new bill, which is also supported by Reps. Bonnie Watson-Coleman, D-N.J., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., TSA employees would have full federal sector collective bargaining rights and due process and whistleblower protections, and it would tie their pay to the General Schedule. The House passed an earlier iteration of the bill in March , although the Republican-controlled Senate did not take up the legislation.

The legislation would require the TSA to move to Title 5 personnel policies within days of enactment, and stipulates that employees shall not see their pay reduced as part of the transition to the General Schedule pay scale.

In a statement, Thompson argued that the TSA workforce has gone too long without the full rights afforded to most federal workers, particularly given their service through multiple crises in recent years, including the day partial government shutdown in late through early  and the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Throughout the COVID pandemic, transportation security officers have remained on the frontline and put themselves at even greater risk every day to keep our skies safe,” he said. “Despite their zero-fail mission, TSOs are among the lowest paid federal employees and are denied workforce rights available to other federal employees. This is simply unacceptable, and it is long past time we provide this critical workforce the pay, protections and respect they deserve.”

Watson-Coleman argued that the lack of employee rights at TSA is at least in part responsible for the agency’s perennially low morale and high turnover.

“Transportation security officers have continued to admirably perform their duties during the COVID crisis and yet, under current rules, they are not afforded the same rights to organize as other workers,” she said. “This creates the dual issue of dragging down morale and hampering efforts to hire and retain skilled and qualified personnel.”

Sours: https://www.govexec.com/management//02/house-leaders-reintroduce-bill-grant-tsa-employees-full-federal-protections//

Statement from TSA Assistant Administrator for Strategic Communication and Public Affairs Andrew Post regarding The Washington Post’s article on the agency’s response to COVID

“The Washington Post article entitled “Union wants vulnerable TSA officers to be kept home as coronavirus cases among employees surge” unfortunately presents a misleading narrative about employee cases among our essential TSA workforce, who have done a fantastic job carrying out their mission despite huge challenges presented by the pandemic.

TSA takes the health and safety of our workforce and airline passengers seriously and has implemented major initiatives to protect both. Some of what we have implemented continues to evolve, based on our growing knowledge about the virus and the latest CDC advice. This was provided to the Post but not included in their story.

The Post cites only the overall cumulative positive cases since March, but omits the active cases (which are under ) or the recovered cases (which have eclipsed active cases).

Regardless of union position, the agency does not have the option to allow security officers to stop reporting to work without an eligible reason, of which there are many, as presented to all employees by headquarters over the last few months. ‘Weather and Safety’ Leave was offered very broadly for four months before it was updated as the pandemic continued, and now includes several alternative leave options. As passenger volume increased in June and July, so did the need for more officers at America’s checkpoints. TSA leadership, including Administrator Pekoske, have regular, positive dialogue with union representatives and also cover these issues frequently during employee town halls in which anonymous questions are allowed.

Many members of the TSA family are contracting COVID outside of the workplace, so the need to take precautions in their personal time continues to be extremely important to our mission.

Vulnerable population members in the TSA workforce have been afforded important new protections and alternatives to fit their individual situation, including the option of nearly 1, open detail opportunities within TSA and outside of TSA (such as with SBA) to take on different roles. PPE was quickly and efficiently provided to the workforce, and continues to be available in abundant supply. Barriers were constructed and extra space opened up to allow for social distancing. Exponentially better cleaning protocols and schedules have been employed by airports and airlines. The air travel environment for passengers and workers is much, much safer – and these changes will outlast COVID

As we attempt to remove the touchpoints, like IDs and passengers’ property during the screening process, touchless technology is one of our major priorities. Computed Tomography (CT), Enhanced AIT (eAIT) and Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) are examples of technologies changing the way we do business. In partnership with airport and airline partners, the air travel experience looks far different than it did before March of this year.”


Sours: https://www.tsa.gov/news/press/statements//08/05/statement-tsa-assistant-administrator-strategic-communication-and
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§c. Weather and safety leave

(a) .-In this section-

(1) the term "agency"-

(A) means an Executive agency (as defined in section of this title);

(B) includes the Department of Veterans Affairs; and

(C) does not include the Government Accountability Office; and

(2) the term "employee"-

(A) has the meaning given the term in section ; and

(B) does not include an intermittent employee who does not have an established regular tour of duty during the administrative workweek.

(b) .-An agency may approve the provision of leave under this section to an employee or a group of employees without loss of or reduction in the pay of the employee or employees, leave to which the employee or employees are otherwise entitled, or credit to the employee or employees for time or service only if the employee or group of employees is prevented from safely traveling to or performing work at an approved location due to-

(1) an act of God;

(2) a terrorist attack; or

(3) another condition that prevents the employee or group of employees from safely traveling to or performing work at an approved location.

(c) .-An agency shall record leave provided under this section separately from leave authorized under any other provision of law.

(d) .-Not later than days after the date of enactment of this section, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section, including-

(1) guidance to agencies regarding the appropriate purposes for providing leave under this section; and

(2) the proper recording of leave provided under this section.

(e) .-Notwithstanding subsection (a) of section of title 38, this section shall apply to an employee described in subsection (b) of that section.

(Added div. A, title XI, §(e)(1), Dec. 23, , .)

Editorial Notes

References in Text

The date of enactment of this section, subsec. (d), is the date of enactment of which was approved Dec. 23,

Sours: https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title5-sectionc&num=0&edition=prelim
8 Secrets Airport Staff Don't Want You to Know

Hundreds of frontline screeners at the Transportation Security Administration are opting to skip work over fear of contracting the novel coronavirus, sparking concerns among some agency leaders of staffing shortfalls. 

The employees are calling out or heading home after TSA Administrator David Pekoske said at a virtual town hall that transportation security officers could use paid “weather and safety leave” if they felt uncomfortable coming to work. That announcement followed several TSA officers around the country contracting the virus and dozens more being forced into quarantine. 

Top regional officials are now sounding the alarm that hundreds of employees are staying home, and with little incentive for screeners to continue working when they can simply request leave with no questions asked, the officials expect the problem to only get worse. And while airport traffic has greatly diminished as a result of the pandemic, officials say there is still a small surge of travel occurring during the spring break period. 

There is “absolutely nothing” to stop the situation from growing to thousands of officers declining to come to work, one senior executive said. As more and more employees see their colleagues taking unlimited safety leave without missing a paycheck, the executive speculated those employees would stop seeing any point in coming to work. “Why am I coming to work?” the official anticipated employees would ask themselves. 

TSA said in a statement the safety leave would be available in day increments for employees to ensure "they have time to assess their health status and coordinate personal and family matters."

"This applies to employees, regardless of whether or not they are symptomatic for COVID," the agency said. "This is part of TSA’s commitment to the well-being of its workforce during this extraordinary time."

A second senior executive said the number employees coming to that conclusion has already jumped. 

“Those numbers are pretty aggressively growing,” the executive said. “We’ve just opened the floodgates for people to exploit it.”

The officials said the agency has directed them to not ask any questions of any employee who requests leave. 

“If they show up and say ‘I'm scared to go to work’, we are not allowed to challenge them,” one senior executive said. “We are not allowed to ask why. They can just go home.” 

Jim Gregory, a TSA spokesman, countered that supervisors "should have meaningful conversations with employees." 

Pekoske’s latest informal guidance follows an official memorandum TSA put out last week that said the agency would grant safety leave only for those employees ordered to quarantine. Under that policy, those workers would be required to provide written proof of such an order. It directed managers to approve safety leave for other employees only for 24 hours to enable employees to make arrangements to care for loved ones. 

One executive had no problem with that guidance, noting some pregnant employees had taken leave as they are at a higher risk. Another executive said there was no intention to put anyone at risk and they had sent home all employees with any history of medical conditions. Instead of turning that into “if you’re not comfortable, if you feel you are at risk, don’t come in,” one supervisor suggested TSA supply officers with the N95 masks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested is most effective in preventing the spread of the virus. TSA employees have implored the agency to provide the masks, but it has instead only made standard surgical masks available on an optional basis. A spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA screeners, said the official guidance employees have received dictated they must have an excuse above simply feeling uncomfortable to receive safety leave. The supervisors, however, said they have received informal guidance from the administrator superseding that policy. 

The same executive also suggested the agency require screeners to change gloves for each passenger, noting during pat downs the officers touch the parts of arms that passengers have been instructed to cough and sneeze into. Gregory, the TSA spokesman, said the agency has instructed employees to conduct such glove changes. AFGE, however, said it has requested the change in policy and has been told "it is not feasible." 

The executives said the growing number of employees opting out of work is starting to adversely impact the mission. The decision was made by the administrator, they said, without input from those in the field. They brought concerns up the chain to no avail. 

“We were told the decision was made and not to challenge it,” the second senior executive said. 

TSA, for its part, said it will consult with local leadership to "adjust screening operations as needed to ensure that security is not compromised.”

The executives, however, expect the impact of employees staying home will only grow more dire. 

“Three weeks from now it wouldn't surprise me if most of these operations can no longer function,” one said. 

This story was updated with comment from TSA and AFGE. 

Sours: https://www.govexec.com/workforce//03/tsa-screeners-begin-staying-home-en-masse-after-agency-loosens-leave-rules//

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8 Secrets Airport Staff Don't Want You to Know

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