WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) — TSA officers are at high risk of contracting the coronavirus because of the nature of their jobs. Now, the union representing Transportation Security Administration employees says the government must do more to keep them safe. They have a list of demands they want before travel around the country picks up again.
TSA officers are still at work keeping the flying public safe even in the middle pf a worldwide pandemic.
“TSOs need hazardous duty pay,” said Everett Kelley, the National President of the American Federation of Government Employees.
Floridan Congresswoman Val Demings agreed–it is hazardous to work in close contact with travelers.
“Thereby increasing the likelihood of being exposed to COVID-19,” said Demings.
In addition to a pay increase, the union says part-time TSA employees need the same health care benefits as full-time officers.
“TSA took that away last year. Even full-time TSOs have such low pay, it is difficult to afford health insurance,” said Kelley.
Lawmakers introduced several bills to protect TSA officers, including one from California Congressman Lou Correa to restore those healthcare benefits.
“These part-time workers are subject to the same challenges that full-time workers are,” said Correa.
TSA officers are also asking for more personal protective equipment and they want the government to require passengers to wear face masks.
Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus says as states reopen and Americans resume travel, Congress needs to get ahead of the problem.
“More people are going to be flying in the near future. We don’t want to wait until these numbers increase,” said Titus.
The union says at least 500 TSA agents have already contracted COVID-19 and five have died.