Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TSA screener shortage a problem for those who travel a lot for work; it sounds like a horrible job


The TSA is plagued by a shortage of screeners, as many quit after only a short stint on the job, out of job pressure on tedium. The Port Authority of NYNJ has threatened to go back to private companies.  Here’ s a recent story from San Francisco.

In 2002, the TSA was essentially unreachable by phone as screener jobs opened.  At first, the TSA hired only people with previous experience.  But later it had open houses and was prepared to train many workers.  I went to one such open house in Bloomington, MN in August 2002. I went and quickly determined it was not for me. There had been an extremely long and detailed application from and BI.

But the ability to return to a regimented style of work sounds like a “pay your dues” issue in an unequal economy. You wear a uniform, like you are in the military. (In 2004, Independence Air was hiring gate agents at Dulles for $9.50 an hour, again, uniformed.  I went to that job fair.) 

In late 2003, the TSA advertised for part time screeners at Reagan, and I failed the test given at CompUSA.  There was a personality test (true false, almost 400 questions) and a test in recognizing threats on screening machines.

I was also concerned about the idea of doing pat-downs, a kind of forced intimacy that had followed the military issue.
  
The screener shortage is especially nettlesome for those who must travel frequently for work.  I last did that in 1997.  

There is increasing concern about the possibility of hard-to-detect plastic explosives being put into carryon laptops.  Could this complicate business travel even further?

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