The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union which represents Transport Security Officers at U.S. airports, has asked Congress for sufficient funding to hire an additional 6,000 officers, to relieve the labour strain which has led to long delays at airport security lines throughout the country.
This comes after Congress approved a shift this Monday of $28 million of the TSA’s budget to bring in 2,784 part-time TSOs as full time workers and hire an additional 600 officers by the end of the fiscal year. This May, additional funding allowed the TSA to expedite the hiring of 768 new officers and pay overtime for existing workers to catch up with the backlog.
“The reprogramming requests that Congress has approved should provide some short-term relief to TSA officers who are clearly overworked and a flying public that is understandably frustrated,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “However, the funding shifts fall far short in addressing the underlying issue, which is the failure of Congress to provide TSA with sufficient resources to meet its staffing needs and ensure the safety and security of the flying public.”
The union categorises a current cap on the number of TSOs the agency can hire (45,000) as “arbitrary” and highlights that budgetary constraints prevent the TSA from reaching even that number of staff.
“Congress has set TSA up for failure by restricting how many workers it can hire and then slashing its budget to the point that it can’t even hire up to the arbitrary cap,” Cox said. “This results in passengers waiting two or three hours to get through checkpoints at peak times, while security lanes remain closed because there’s no staff to run them. Congress must lift this arbitrary worker cap and provide TSA with enough money to hire 6,000 additional officers, which would restore staffing levels to what they were in 2011.”
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