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New law forces TSA to protect reservists’ jobs

Airline passengers go through the Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Wednesday August 3, 2011 in Atlanta. The TSA was created after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

WASHINGTON – For the first time ever, officials from the Transportation Security Administration aren’t allowed to fire or reassign reservists simply because they’ve been called up for military duty.

When the agency was established following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was exempt from a number of hiring and employment fairness laws in an effort to speed up its launch. That means that even though TSA agents have been a fixture at airports for more than a decade, the agency has never been subject to the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, which guarantees guardsmen and reservists their civilian jobs when they are activated for military service.

That changed late last week, when the president signed into law new legislation requiring the TSA to provide those employment protections.

TSA officials had insisted in the past that they worked with guardsmen and reservists to find solutions, but veterans advocates said the lack of USERRA protection created unfair hardships for many employees.

In a statement, Veterans of Foreign Wars Executive Director Bob Wallace said the new law “not only offers piece-of-mind to service members already employed by TSA, but it also ensures that TSA can be an attractive employer to potential workers who possess the kinds of skills TSA needs to fulfill their mission.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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This article is provided courtesy of Stars and Stripes, which got its start as a newspaper for Union troops during the Civil War, and has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and 1945 in the Pacific. Stripes reporters have been in the field with American soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo, and are now on assignment in the Middle East.

Stars and Stripes has one of the widest distribution ranges of any newspaper in the world. Between the Pacific and European editions, Stars and Stripes services over 50 countries where there are bases, posts, service members, ships, or embassies.

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