November 20, 2008
Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421

TSA Union Calls for Agency to Reinvest Pearson Refund into Training, Technology

(WASHINGTON)—Following an announcement that Transportation Security Administration contractor NCS Pearson will refund the agency more than $5 million, the American Federation of Government Employees today called for TSA to reinvest that money into much-needed new technology and training, and improved working conditions for its employees, among other items.

“TSA is sorely understaffed, lacks the latest technology and is in desperate need of new employee training programs,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “TSA should not give a second thought as to what to use this money for.”

NCS Pearson was hired by TSA in 2001 to assist with hiring and training at the agency. The company recently admitted it submitted “false claims” and agreed to pay TSA $5.6 million.

DHS’ 2007 Employee Survey revealed that less than half of TSOs said their training needs even are assessed or that they noticed any improvement in training from the previous year, and barely half were satisfied with their level of on-the-job training. An amazingly low 35 percent said they had seen an improvement in resources, and only 49 percent of the TSOs felt they were protected from health and safety hazards on the job.

Furthermore, in a recent AFGE survey, TSOs rated the importance of better training and more fairness in recertification as 4.3 out of 5. Some training problems AFGE has come across include a lack of training time and adequate instruction, TSOs who are unable to complete training requirements because their airport is understaffed, different standards at different airports, TSOs being given inaccurate and inconsistent test-taking directions, and inconsistencies in training and testing.

“Of course, many of the training problems could have been avoided with a collective bargaining agreement, which TSOs currently are deprived of,” Gage said. “AFGE would have negotiated with TSA to ensure that the training and testing reflected what TSOS actually do every day on the job, and that there was a fair opportunity for TSOs to receive the appropriate training prior to taking the tests.

“Persistent inadequate staffing, poor training and deficient working conditions has led TSA to the worst attrition rates, among the highest injury rates and the lowest morale in the federal government,” Gage added. “While we look forward to President-elect Obama affording these dedicated employees the basic workplace rights they currently are denied, TSA right now has been presented with an opportunity to rectify these oversights. AFGE strongly urges them to do so for the sake of its workforce and for the safety of this nation.”

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