November 19, 2019

Cortez Masto Joins Bill to Strengthen TSA Agents’ Rights in the Workplace

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in introducing the Strengthening American Transportation Security Act of 2019, which would grant Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) the same workplace rights as all federal employees, including their colleagues in the Department of Homeland Security.

“Thousands of TSA Agents work hard every day to keep Americans safe as they travel to destinations like Las Vegas. They are crucial safeguards in protecting American security, and they deserve the same rights as every other federal worker. I’m proud to stand up for them.”

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto and Schatz, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also cosponsored the Act.


Since 2011, TSOs, who make up more than 70% of TSA’s workforce, have had labor union representation but have been denied full collective bargaining rights and opportunities to effectively raise issues in dispute to an independent third party for an impartial resolution. Moreover, the roughly 44,000 Federal workers who serve as TSOs are subject to a pay and performance system that does not track the General Services wage system, which for over fifty years has been the primary wage system for Federal workers.

Among other things, the bill:

  • Eliminates personnel authorities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Transportation governing the conditions of employment for TSA employees, thus making TSA employees subject to the personnel management system applicable to other federal employees;
  • Sets forth transition rules that protect the pay rates and other rights of TSA employees;
  • Requires DHS to consult with the labor organization certified by the Federal Labor Relations Authority to carry out the conversion of such positions; and
  • Does not affect the prohibitions against disloyalty and asserting the right to strike against the federal government.

During the 2019 government shutdown, Senator Cortez Masto requested that DHS and the Department of Transportation develop strategies for funding airport security given TSA shortages. She also cosponsored the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act to protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults during a government shutdown. In 2017 Senator Cortez Masto called on the Department of Homeland Security to reject cuts to TSA funds to pay for President Trump’s proposed border wall.