WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National President J. David Cox, Sr. today testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security opposing the Screening Partnership Program (SPP), an initiative that facilitates privatization of airport security.
Cox urged the committee to put the safety of flying public first and the interests of greedy contractors and faux budget hawks second. Cox was adamant that the only group who stands to gain from privatizing airport security are security contractors themselves.
“It is clear that Screening Partnership Program (SPP) does not improve aviation security and it does not save the taxpayers money. Rather, SPP harms security, costs more, and hurts Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) who bear the brunt of an outsourcing program. Only security contractors benefit,” testified Cox.
Privatization decisions are not based on TSO performance at a given airport. After privatization, it is common for skilled TSOs to be replaced by workers lacking their training and on-the-job experience.
Only 18 of the nation’s 457 commercial airports have private sector security screeners. With the exception of San Francisco and four other airports that were part of the initial SPP pilot program (Kansas City International Airport, Greater Rochester International Airport, Jackson Hole Airport, and Tupelo Regional Airport), the only airports to seek privatization have been small airports in Iowa, New Mexico, Montana, Florida, and New Hampshire.
In 2013, the elected managers of Sacramento International Airport agreed to consider a proposal by their airport director to join SPP. But when they studied the facts of the situation, and how it would affect their local screeners, the Sacramento Board of Supervisors reversed its earlier decision and voted by a wide margin against TSA privatization.
“There is no demand from airports to privatize the work of our nation’s TSOs,” said Cox. “When larger airports consider SPP and then learn the facts, they stick with the TSOs.”
The flying public are not the only ones to lose when an airport is privatized. Airport security privatization means a significant cut in pay, benefits, and career development opportunities for TSOs, weakening the salary base in fragile local economies. AFGE strongly supports the Contract Screener Reform and Accountability Act, a bill that would provide protection of TSO jobs and compensation if a security contractor is awarded the contract at their airport, and ensure security to the flying public through increased accountability.
Cox’s full testimony can be found here: https://www.afge.org/?documentID=4247.