- The Washington Times - Monday, May 27, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The government is dangling $500 bonuses as incentives to stay on a bit longer to many of the tens of thousands of privately hired airport security screeners it wants to eventually replace.
The Transportation Security Administration authorized the incentive pay earlier this year to ensure a smooth and safe transition at airports.
The extra pay is aimed at boosting morale and preventing screeners from bailing out of their jobs months or weeks before federally trained workers replace them.
It is also aimed at encouraging the private companies that employ the screeners to maintain their current staffing levels.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Congress ordered the government to replace private airport screeners with federal employees at all commercial airports by Nov. 19.
Agency spokesman Jonathan Thompson said he had no figures on how many security screeners would receive the bonuses, which could average about $500, depending upon a person's skills and competence.
The money will be paid out only after the federal government assumes complete control of airport security so that the screeners don't pocket the money and leave the job to find work elsewhere.
Baltimore-Washington International Airport on April 30 became the first in the country to have federal workers in charge of screening passengers. Mr. Thompson said some of the displaced private screeners there were awarded bonuses for having stayed on until that point.
From the time the Transportation Security Administration took over responsibility for airline security Feb. 17, officials there recognized something would have to be done to entice private screeners and their employers to stay on the job through the November deadline.
"It's actually not been as bad a problem as we'd planned on," Mr. Thompson said. "We'd planned on the worst, and we've had an overwhelming, 95 percent-plus, stay on the jobs."


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