The Transportation Security Administration is gearing up to fire six bag-screening officers at Logan International Airport because they were a bit too distracted on the job to actually perform their duties of carefully checking to make sure said bags weren’t filled with bad stuff like explosives. An additional 14 will be suspended for inattention to duty.
This all went down after a routine audit showed that some officers were simply letting bags roll on by, with the screeners not paying close attention to the computer monitors showing what’s in each one. Often, the problem was that the screeners were fiddling around on cellphones or other electronic devices while working, reports the Boston Globe.
The time for such inattention is allotted to one 30-minute meal break and two 15-minute breaks during an eight hour shift, and shouldn’t be going on during work hours.
Meanwhile, other officers just didn’t follow the rules when bags would trigger alarms. They’re supposed to hand inspect such items, which sometimes set off alarms because they hold dense items like cheese. The TSA nothing bad got past as a result of such laxity, because of the other levels of inspection involved after screening.
All of the employees in trouble worked in the same baggage room at the airport, out of 1,374 TSA workers at Logan.
“All TSA employees are held to the highest standards of conduct and accountability,” the TSA said in a statement about baggage screeners. “These standards are critical to our work and TSA’s commitment to the safety of the traveling public.”
One of the suspended officers didn’t seem too positive about the whole working environment, saying baggage rooms are understaffed and workers have to resort to eating on the job because those 15-minute breaks somehow never happen.
“The place is a walking disaster,” he said. “The place is anything but safe right now.”
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA workers, says the employees will likely appeal the TSA’s actions.
“This incident is an indication of a systemic problem that exists not with the employees but with the managers and supervisors at Boston Logan International airport,” said the union’s acting supervising attorney for TSA employees, adding that the workers “are highly monitored employees. They don’t have the discretion to make the decisions that are not in compliance with what their managers say they should or shouldn’t be doing.”
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TSA set to fire 6 Logan Airport staffers [Boston Globe]