Union wants more TSA officers

The Transportation Security Administration must hire additional officers to alleviate long lines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and other airports across the country, the head of the union representing Transportation Security Officers said.

“Reports of routine hour-long waits in security lines and missed flights are the result of reckless budget cuts and a refusal on the part of TSA to make full staffing a priority,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

Some Sea-Tac officials are threatening to consider privatization as a response to complaints about ridiculously long lines. But sacrificing safety by hiring rent-a-cops at even lower wages than TSA pays its officers is the opposite of what we should be doing.

“Privatizing security screening means going back to pre-9/11 standards. Unaccountable, untrained screeners employed by profit-hungry contractors won´t make the lines shorter, but it will definitely make flying less safe,” Cox said.

TSA currently has only about 42,000 officers on the job. The White House requested funding in the 2017 budget to hire an additional 470 officers, and TSA has increased the request to 1,000 new officers in response to complaints about long lines. However, neither number is adequate to meet current requirements.

TSA is able to hire up to 45,000 officers under an arbitrary budget cap set by Congress, yet the agency doesn´t even hire up to the cap — preferring to let passengers stand in line and endure long waits.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.