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8 Newark screeners sacked — some for sleeping on job

Jun. 28, 2012 - 12:15PM   |  
By BART JANSEN, USA TODAY   |   Comments
The Transportation Security Administration fired eight officers at the Newark, N.J., airport Wednesday for sleeping on the job or other violations.
The Transportation Security Administration fired eight officers at the Newark, N.J., airport Wednesday for sleeping on the job or other violations. (Jim WATSON /AFP)

The Transportation Security Administration fired eight officers at the Newark, N.J., airport Wednesday for sleeping on the job or violating other rules, in what was the agency’s third cluster of firings this month.

Some of the workers at Newark Liberty International Airport were caught on video in December napping in a checked-baggage room in Terminal B, TSA said.

Other workers there violated other standard operating procedures involving checked bags, and more workers could be disciplined as the investigation continues, the agency said.

Earlier this month:

• Seven workers were fired on June 15 in Philadelphia after another worker was convicted of bribery a week earlier for charging workers to pass certification tests.

• Five workers were fired and 37 more, including the security director, were suspended on June 1 in Fort Myers, Fla., for failing to conduct additional random screenings for hundreds of passengers.

• In April, two current and two former TSA screening agents were charged with drug trafficking and bribery for allegedly allowing pounds of cocaine, marijuana and speed through checkpoints.

“Something is failing in this system,” Glen Winn, a former airline security director who teaches at University of Southern California, said of the incidents at various airports. “It’s egregious. We’re trying to prevent another 9/11.”

At Newark, the agency said, the eight workers who were fired had been suspended in January from screening passengers and placed on modified duties while the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general reviewed the case to ensure that the workers didn’t have an excuse such as being on break.

In a statement, TSA said it “holds all of its employees to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace.”

It also said the Newark action “reaffirms our strong commitment to ensure the safety of the traveling public.”

Representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing TSA workers, didn’t respond to phone and email messages for comment.

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