- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The April 9 Commentary column by Robert Poole, “Get the government out of airport screening,” sharply understates the mandate of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

At more than 400 U.S. airports, TSA employees screen some 1.8 million passengers and their baggage every day. A work force of 48,000 is hardly “bloated” with a mandate that large. Further, it is clear that both the public and Congress see transportation security as an inherently governmental function and want it performed by federal employees.

As for the use of the European model, in which airports do their own screening, the would-be Christmas Day bomber boarded his plane for Detroit - without luggage, a coat or a return ticket - at a European airport. He had no contact with TSA screeners.

Clearly, TSA is poised to become the world-class passenger-protection agency envisioned by Congress. Its employees are dedicated to their agency’s mission and take very seriously their national security duties.

What is needed are certain improvements to TSA and its workplaces, including the elements of the plan advanced by the National Treasury Employees Union. These include raising the acknowledged low pay of transportation security officers as a way to reduce turnover and related costs, improve training and certification programs, provide employees with full whistleblower rights and grant them the same collective-bargaining rights other front-line Department of Homeland Security personnel have had for many years with no negative impact on the accomplishment of agency missions. TSA will benefit greatly from these improvements, as will the traveling public and the nation.

COLLEEN M. KELLEY

National president

National Treasury Employees Union

Washington

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