(Washington)—“Before new U.S. port lease arrangements can be considered, the administration needs to address the fact that the nation’s ports are understaffed and mismanaged,” the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) said today.
“The real issue at hand is homeland security,” said Charles Showalter, president of AFGE’s National Homeland Security Union which represents CBP officers who inspect ships as they enter U.S. ports. “AFGE strongly feels port operations should be handled domestically, but there are not enough Customs and Border Protection inspectors at the nation’s ports to handle the incoming traffic that we have now, and our guys at the ports are being told that they can’t do any overtime. That combination often results in un-inspected ships being left unattended in port overnight.
“We should be as concerned about maintaining public safety as we are about maintaining a global economy. The bottom line is that, in spite Secretary Chertoff’s assertions, we don’t have enough people to inspect all containers coming into the U.S., and that puts this nation in a vulnerable state,” Showalter added.
AFGE serves as the nation’s homeland security union, representing CBP, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Citizenship and Immigration Services employees, among others.