TSA to use private security workers for late shift at N.Y. airport

The Transportation Security Administration plans to replace some federal passenger and baggage screeners with private security forces at New York's LaGuardia Airport starting Nov. 1. But federal screeners oppose the move, claiming TSA is trying to do an end-run around federal law and is putting airport security at risk.

Federal screeners at LaGuardia, who are hired and managed by TSA, were notified about a week ago that they will no longer work the late shift from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., said Miguel Shamah, acting vice president of the Metropolitan Airport Workers Association, a group organized to represent the interests of airport workers. Instead, LaGuardia plans to use private security contractors to work the late shift, Shamah said.

TSA spokesman Darrin Kayser said private security forces at LaGuardia are being hired only to patrol the airport terminals and watch exit areas, and will not conduct passenger and baggage screening. He explained that LaGuardia does not have official passenger and baggage screening operations during the late shift.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress mandated that only a federal workforce of screeners trained by TSA could conduct passenger and baggage screening at the nation's airports.

"We aren't hiring any private screeners to do screening," Kayser said of the situation at LaGuardia. "We're not legally authorized by Congress to do that."

However, Shamah contends that using private security employees on the late shift will jeopardize security. He said even though the airport does not have official screening operations during the late shift, some passenger and baggage screening inevitably occurs due to delayed flights. He also said federal screeners are trained to watch the terminals and exit areas.

He said TSA is risking security because private workers do not have the same training and background checks as federal screeners, and the late shift is a vulnerable time for any airport.

"They're pulling the wool over the American public's eyes, and this is a serious matter of national security," he said. "These people do not have [official] background checks and they are sitting in the area of the airport that is most vulnerable for terrorists to get into, which are exits. And these exits are supposed to be TSA-run with TSA standard operating procedures. How is it possible that these people are going to take care of the airport during the overnight hours when people are not there to oversee them?"

The Metropolitan Airport Workers Association and LaGuardia screeners have contacted members of the New York congressional delegation-Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, and Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley-asking for help to prevent the use of private security workers.

Crowley's office contacted TSA this week and asked the agency to provide written confirmation that it is not going to use private workers to conduct screening operations, a spokeswoman said. She added that Crowley does not support the privatization of federal workers.

"If LaGuardia is hiring security guards, he encourages them to hire TSA guards who are currently working that late shift, or give them the first option for those jobs," she said. "We don't think that people should be laid off of any job that they currently have, but LaGuardia should hire the people necessary to keep the airport as safe and secure as possible."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.