Long airport screening lines have Congress and the Department of Homeland Security calling for more Transportation Security Administration officers.

You can now add the American Federation of Government Employees to the ranks.

Union president J. David Cox sent a May 12 letter leadership in the House and Senate, calling for the addition of 6,000 TSA officers.

"TSA has failed to address chronic understaffing at airports for years," he said in the letter. "Congress is directly accountable for failing to fully fund even the limited and arbitrary cap on the number of TSO full-time equivalents during this time. TSOs are burdened with growing demands they cannot meet at current staffing levels, and passengers are faced with unnecessarily excessive wait times."

Related:Read the letter

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a May 4 press release that he would increase the number of TSA screeners, approve additional overtime and collaborate with airports to use their personnel for "non-security screening operations" like returning bins to security lines.

But Cox took issue with at least some of those plans, including the airport collaboration, saying the plan would put a temporary salve on continuing problem.

"The decision to reprogram $34 million in funding to pay overtime and accelerate the hiring of addition TSOs, while providing a small amount of temporary relief for travelers, defers crucial funding that currently is necessary," he said.

TSA has been a continued foil for AFGE in terms of negotiating a contract for its members as agency employees. Cox has said that getting TSA employees Title 5 status is one of AFGE's legislative goals for 2016.

TSA has had a trying week as Administrator Peter Neffenger took repeated critiques from the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee on May 12 about a litany of issues, including the long lines.

"It's one thing to understand that I am going to be discommoded and inconvenienced to get through a security line to protect me and everybody else," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., on May 12. "It's quite another to pay the price for that it's moving so sluggishly and glacially that I am going to miss my flight."

Connolly added that United Airlines reported 7,000 passengers missed flights in March as a result of long TSA lines. Airports in New York and Atlanta also sent letters to the TSA this week that threatened to privatize security operations.

Neffenger said in the hearing that passenger volumes had grown from 1.6 million a day in 2012 to well over 2 million now, without an increase in personnel, which has led to the slow downs.

"At peak times, we are seeing more people moving through the system than we've ever seen before," he said. "I do think we need to grow the staff slightly to get up to that. We're working hard on that."

In Other News
Load More