- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I would like to set the record straight in response to your editorial “Undermining airport security” (Opinion, Monday) on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and legislation that would grant TSA employees collective bargaining rights.

The Congressional Budget Office report referenced in the editorial shows that nearly all the increase in cost from this legislation would go directly toward putting TSA screeners on the same merit-based pay system as the majority of the government.

Paying those entrusted with the safety and security of our nation’s airports and traveling public a fair pay rate would go a long way to stabilizing an agency that has been unsteady from the start.

Additionally, the current system cannot be portrayed as a merit-based pay system. The system consists of secret ratings that can be changed by a supervisor without the employees’ knowledge. TSA employees do not know what their performance ratings are based on, and they are given no solid performance goals.

The editorial claims that the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) is in favor of eliminating testing of screeners. That is simply incorrect. The current testing system is a wholly inaccurate one marked by inadequate training and testers who are only marginally prepared to do the testing. NTEU is not calling for test elimination; the union is calling for an accurate test.

Another piece of the bill would provide TSA employees with statutory whistleblower protections, so that if they see problems that could potentially endanger security, they are protected in reporting those issues. The editorial failed to mention that.

NTEU supports H.R. 1881 because it will provide TSA with a stable, professional work force that will make the agency stronger and more effective.

COLLEEN M. KELLEY

National president

National Treasury Employees Union

Washington

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