Friday, November 19, 2010

Airports consider congressman's call to ditch TSA

One item not mentioned is that the TSA is now required by the Federal court to allow union elections for screeners. We should be looking to reduce government intrusion in our lives and the TSA has been a major increase in public employment. Privatize it and see what innovations come out of it. Just think of the problems unionization of the system will create not to mention the exorbitant costs to the the taxpayers.

In a climate of Internet campaigns to shun airport pat-downs and veteran pilots suing over their treatment by government screeners, some airports are considering another way to show dissatisfaction: Ditching TSA agents altogether.

Federal law allows airports to opt for screeners from the private sector instead. The push is being led by a powerful Florida congressman who's a longtime critic of the Transportation Security Administration and counts among his campaign contributors some of the companies who might take the TSA's place.

Furor over airline passenger checks has grown as more airports have installed scanners that produce digital images of the body's contours, and the anger intensified when TSA added a more intrusive style of pat-down recently for those who opt out of the full-body scans. Some travelers are using the Internet to organize protests aimed at the busy travel days next week surrounding Thanksgiving.

Private contractors are not a cure-all for passengers aggrieved about taking off their shoes for security checks, passing through full-body scanners or getting hand-frisked. For example, contractors must follow all TSA-mandated security procedures, including hand patdowns when necessary.

"I am a frequent air traveler and I have experienced ... TSA agents who have let the power go to their head," Erickson said. "You can complain about those people, but very rarely does the bureaucracy work quickly enough to remove those people from their positions."

TSA officials would select and pay the contractors who run airport security. But Dale thinks a private contractor would be more responsive since the contractor would need local support to continue its business with the airport.

"Competition drives accountability, it drives efficiency, it drives a particular approach to your airport," Dale said. "That company is just going to be looking at you. They're not going to be driven out of Washington, they will be driven out of here."

San Francisco International Airport has used private screeners since the formation of the TSA and remains the largest to do so.

The airport believed a private contractor would have more flexibility to supplement staff during busy periods with part-time employees, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said. Also, the city's high cost of living had made it difficult in the past to recruit federal employees to run immigration and customs stations — a problem the airport didn't want at security checkpoints.
"You get longer lines," McCarron said.

Read full AP article here.

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