Rights for the Transportation Security Administration Workforce Act of 2021

Floor Speech

Date: May 12, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman. I won't need 5 minutes because this is essentially commonsense legislation. I rise in strong support of this measure.

Title 5, unions. What is wrong with unions? Our Border Patrol officers are unionized. Our local police officers are unionized. Our local sheriffs are unionized, and countless other public safety officers are unionized.

TSA employees, 9/11. It has been more than 20 years, but people like me, I still remember 9/11. I still remember those pictures of firefighters and police officers, unionized, running into these burning buildings in New York City. Those officers and firefighters knew they were going to perish that day, but they ran in to save American lives.

We don't want another 9/11 to happen again. Heaven forbid. But this is what the TSA officers are all about, preventing another 9/11.

Every time I get on a plane, every time my family gets on a plane, you hope to God that those TSO officers, TSA officers do their jobs, make sure that nothing terrible gets on a flight, make sure that there is order, and you want that officer on that line, on that front line, to do their job correctly.

You want an experienced officer, you want an experienced officer who has been there for years. You don't want an officer who has been there a few months waiting for another job because that job doesn't pay him enough. You don't want that officer to look for another job because he is not trained correctly. You want a trained, professional workforce.

That is really what this measure is about, preventing another 9/11. How? Making sure that those frontline TSA workers, employees are prepared, trained, and know what they are doing. Commonsense legislation. I ask my colleagues to please support safety in the skies, safety for our families.

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Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I claim the time in opposition to the amendment.

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Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this amendment, which is unnecessary and failed on a bipartisan vote during the Committee on Homeland Security's markup of this bill.

Law enforcement across Federal Government, as well as State and local, have benefited from collective bargaining representation without any harm to national security. This amendment seeks to have TSA treated differently from other Department of Homeland Security components with union representation, like U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

This amendment is inconsistent with the goal of the underlying bill, which is to ensure that TSA workforce is treated like all other Federal employees--equally.

Further, this amendment is unnecessary because under section 7106 of title 5, the Administrator is already granted this power to, ``take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out the agency mission during emergencies.'' The same provision would preserve TSA's authority to hire, remove, or to assign work employees to fulfill an agency's mission.

So if the law is clear, why is this amendment being offered? The answer is simple. Many here want to avoid talking about the real issue, which is the need to improve compensation and benefits for frontline TSA workers. I would propose that an untrained, inexperienced frontline TSA worker is not good for our national security.

Collective bargaining adds to our national security. Unions like those representing CBP employees would protect the rights of dedicated TSA employees who have come to work without pay during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

If we as a society respect these workers, we will give them the right to collectively bargain and treat them like we should; that is, a trusted, professional workforce that protect us and our families on an everyday basis.

I thank my colleagues from Florida and Mississippi for this good debate. Let me answer their question directly to the point. They talk about priorities, national security. But this amendment only applies to TSA employees. It doesn't apply to other Federal employees or other members of Homeland Security.

If this amendment was really about national security, you ought to have it apply to all Federal employees, not just TSA employees. That is why this is a red herring.

Bottom line, again, I am going to repeat: Section 7106 of title 5 grants to administrators of these agencies the power to ``take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out the agency mission during emergencies.''

Bottom line, this is an antiunion amendment. It is unnecessary and insulting to the dedicated professional employees of the Transportation Security Administration. TSA employees should not be treated differently from other Federal agency workers who have the right to collectively bargain.

Those advocating for this antiunion amendment forget that for the Border Patrol agents and the Bureau of Prisons employees who have similar security and screening functions, they are also unionized.

TSA itself has told us many times that this bill does not create security problems.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to reject this amendment, just as my colleagues did when it was rejected in committee. I yield back the balance of my time.

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