Thursday, July 28, 2005



I don't have a problem with the criticisms in Beth Pembroke's article other than her applying the problems she encountered at LAX at what appears to be all airports across the nation. No doubt that other airports are experiencing similar problems; I just don't think it applies across the board.

I think this is symptomatic of major airports more than it is of other airports. I believe that in major cities such as New York, Atlanta, LA and Chicago, the starting wages for screeners, leads and supervisors aren't competitive even with the adjustments for locality pay. Hate to stereotype, but you get what you paid for. I'm sure that there are a great number of dedicated and professional screeners in these cities, but once you get enough supervisors and leads with poor work ethics or unprofessional standards, it tends to discourage those good workers who would stay the course and rise through the ranks to improve the organization.

Sad truth is that NCS Pearson, may its name be cursed forever, did a truly sloppy job hiring screeners, leads, supervisors and screening managers. There were plenty of good people who were hired because they applied for these jobs NOT because NCS Pearson successfully selected the best applicants. Again, trying to avoid stereotyping, but I think there's an element of truth in explaining why some supervisors are of such low quality and others are not.

As for the criminal backgrounds, that's the risk any employer takes. However, if someone with a previous felony conviction made it through, then I again have to fault NCS Pearson. A simple NCIC check should have detected a previous felony conviction. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are a different story and require a more in-depth inquiry. That's just the nature of a system designed to protect our rights and privacy.

My consistent criticism of TSA is its poor leadership. Of all the issues confronting TSA (cargo screening, the shoe screening policy, selectee passenger screening, lighter bans, Privacy Act violations, etc), the number one problem which may soon erupt and have dire consequences is TSA's poor leadership. It will erode the agency from the inside and spell disaster for the public that has little trust in it as it is already. Does this necessarily mean that unionizing TSA screeners may solve the problem? I don't know the answer to that. I'm usually reluctant to participate in unions, but in this case, with an unresponsive and uncaring leadership & management staff, this may be the solution. It could also worsen it.

Point is that TSA is clueless about its own internal problems and is still focused on its public image (yeah, see the contradiction there?). Rather than spouting out how many scissors were detected at the checkpoint and twisting that statistic as somehow contributing to aviation safety and security, TSA needs to take a cold hard look internally and work on creating a truly model workplace that motivates screeners to re-dedicate themselves as public servants protecting the public interest. If TSA does this, then all the other pieces will fall into place.

1 comment:

Lonewatchman said...

Looks right to me. The quality of screeners is going downhill and fast. Never saw a step increase, strong screeners get the same bonus as piss poor screeners, promotion of the least qualified candidates, and being treated like dirt by leadership from 4am to 1230pm everyday. There is no good reason for a person of quality to stay in TSA any longer than they have to. I sometimes wonder if the senior leadership at GRR thinks having a walmart calibur security force is something to be proud of. Too much talent leaking out of the system, you should at least save what you have left.