Last night, legislation introduced by Congressman Tim Walz that would expand job protection for members of the Armed Forces passed the Senate and will head to the President to be signed into law. The bill, H.R. 3670, requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). USERRA guarantees that employees in both the public and private sector who are called to active duty can keep their jobs when they come home. The bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this spring.
"The unemployment rate among our service members is already far too high. Protecting the jobs they already have should be a top priority," said Walz, a 24 year veteran of the National Guard. "We have USERRA protections in place for a reason and this bill simply ensures that the thousands of veterans, reservists, and members of the National Guard working for TSA are protected as they would be in any other position. I'm happy this important legislation will be signed into law."
The Walz bill is supported by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
VADM Norb Ryan, USN (ret.), President of the MOAA, applauded the passage of the Reemployment Rights bill for National Guard and Reserve members employed by the Transportation Security Agency.
"MOAA is very grateful to Rep. Walz for his leadership in winning passage of this important legislation to ensure this federal agency provides the same reemployment protections for its Guard and Reserve employees that are required of civilian employers," said VADM Norb Ryan, USN (ret.), President of the MOAA.
"Since the VFW learned of the loophole exempting TSA from complying with service members' employment rights, our advocates have worked diligently to fix it, ensuring members of the Guard and Reserved employed by the agency would now be protected under the law," said VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace. "The bill passed by the Senate today not only offers piece-of-mind to the service members working for TSA, but it also ensures that TSA will be an attractive employer to potential workers with the unique skills they need to fulfill their mission. We applaud Senator Joe Lieberman, Congressman Tim Walz and the more than 60 bipartisan cosponsors in both the House and Senate for standing up for the rights of our citizen-soldiers."
Currently, TSA says it complies with USERRA voluntarily. However, at least two Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) have tried and failed to appeal TSA actions under USERRA. Both the Office of Special Counsel and Merit Systems Protection Board ruled TSOs were barred from USERRA coverage under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act.
With its passage, this marks the third Walz bill aimed at helping veterans that will reach the President's desk this week. On Tuesday, two other bills introduced by Congressman Walz were included in the Honoring America's Veterans Act which passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support. These bills work to combat veteran homelessness and improve rehabilitation services for veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI).