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AFGE: TSA Must Do More to Protect Its Workforce and the Public

TSA workers not prepared to battle swine flu epidemic

WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Transportation Security Officers across the country are being made to work with no precautionary measures as they screen passengers who may have been exposed to the swine flu, the American Federation of Government Employees said today.

In an urgent letter to TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides, AFGE requested the following:

  • That a respirator, gloves and hand sanitizer be provided any TSO who requests them;
  • That TSOs be issued an N-95 respirator as prescribed by OPM Director John Berry in his April 27, 2009 memorandum;
  • That shifts during the pandemic be rotated so that TSOs can wash their hands on a recurrent basis;
  • That testing for the swine flu virus be made available for TSOs who must escort suspected infectious people to isolated areas or otherwise come in close contact (within six feet) of such passengers;
  • That any TSO diagnosed with infection of the swine flu through their exposure to the virus while on duty be provided a CA-2 form by TSA management;
  • That TSOs be afforded the same "human resources policies and flexibilities" as other federal workers if they become ill with the swine flu or must care for sick family members or children in the event of the closure of the child's school or child care center as set forth in OPM Director Berry's April 27, 2009 memorandum; and
  • TSOs who become ill due to their exposure on the job should not be forced to take their own sick or annual leave; they should be granted administrative leave.

AFGE has heard from TSOs at a number of airports throughout the system that requests for protective gear have been denied. In Denver and Miami, for example, TSOs were told they could not be given masks for fear that it would cause public panic. However, at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, baggage screeners were given protective gear while checkpoint screeners - who come in direct contact with travelers - are being denied the gear.

"TSA has an unfortunate pattern of inconsistent responses when it comes to issues of employee safety," Gage said. "This is a perfect example of why collective bargaining in general, and one nationwide contract specifically, is needed at this agency. A measured and consistent response to emergencies at our nation's ports is exactly what the creation of the agency was meant to achieve. AFGE seeks collaboration with DHS and TSA to ensure that TSOs have all they need to protect themselves the flying public from infection."

AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including tens of thousands of DHS employees in agencies such as the Border Patrol, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Protective Service, FEMA and TSA.

SOURCE American Federation of Government Employees
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