TSA Begins AWOL Investigations

Better think twice about skipping work!

On January 27th, Transportation Security Administration head, David Pekoske emailed all TSA employees welcoming them back to work and expressing gratitude for their “unwavering commitment to the mission.”

The email made no mention of the government shutdown, only addressing the “past 35 days.”

The message closed with a veiled warning to those who didn’t report for work as they were going unpaid, “your leadership team will assess all factors before making personnel decisions.”

The email from Pekoske was accompanied by another email from TSA union reps explaining the procedure to charge workers with AWOL (absent without leave) status.

The complete email follows below:

January 27, 2019 All TSA Employees
David P. Pekoske Administrator
Subject: Message from the Administrator: Thank you and Looking Forward

I am extremely pleased that everyone will be back and we can return to normal operations following the passage of the Continuing Resolution Friday evening. The vast majority of you continued to work, but all, whether excepted, exempted, or furloughed, play a critical role in accomplishing TSA’s mission, and I am eager to have the full team back on board.

This was an unprecedented event for TSA as an agency and each of us as individuals. Even during these extraordinary times, your unwavering commitment to the mission ensured that we maintained the highest level of security. No matter what role you serve – as a screening officer, a Federal Air Marshal, a canine handler, an intelligence and vetting professional, a trainer, an inspector or in another important role here at TSA, I cannot emphasize enough my gratitude to each of you, and I am extremely honored to lead this agency.

I talked to many of you over the last month and I heard many stories about how this time affected both you and your families. I also heard about, and witnessed firsthand, examples of how our workforce came together to support fellow teammates during these difficult times. As an agency, we benefited from the generosity of airlines, airport authorities, community organizations and the traveling public. I am thankful for their support and am confident that these relationships and sentiments will endure as we continue to carry out our national security mission going forward.

The TSA leadership team will continue to issue guidance over the coming days to facilitate the agency’s transition back to full operational status. First and foremost, as we normalize operations, I am providing the following guidance to managers and supervisors:
· · · ·

Consider each employee’s individual circumstances over the past 35 days,
Address situations on a case-by-case basis,
Communicate directly with your employees, and
Emulate the principles I have laid forth in the Administrator’s Intent, including: Care for our People,
Communicate Effectively, and Hold Ourselves Accountable.

Many of you faced difficult decisions over the period of the furlough, including about whether you could afford to report to work. For those of you who were not able to come to work because of external situations, I understand that this decision was not made easily and may have been required for a number of reasons out of your control. Your leadership team will assess all factors before making personnel decisions and will do so in a manner consistent with our Core Values of Integrity, Respect, and Commitment.

Subject: Re: Message from the Administrator: Thank you an…
From: TSA Union Rep (identity protected)
During the lapse in funding, and consistent with OPM guidance, when an excepted employee was unable to work based on a legitimate impediment, management retained the right to place them in a furlough status and not charge AWOL. Importantly, before any AWOL is charged or any disciplinary action is taken, senior leaders and supervisors at the K band and above must have an in-person conversation with the affected employee.

How we recover from the past 35 days is as important as the commitment and dedication you demonstrated during this same period. While government funding has been temporarily restored, this event may continue to affect employees on a personal level. I request your continued dedication to the mission and to each other. Please ensure that any absences are appropriately addressed with your supervisors, consistent with policy.

You will be receiving additional guidance shortly on how to address absences during the partial government shutdown. In the meantime, please reach out to your leadership with any questions you may have. And again, thank you!

Adam Campbell is a former military brat, who grew up all over the world--but considers Milwaukee, WI, where he and his wife currently live, to be his home. He enjoys reporting the real news, without bias.