TSA union says freeze on hiring, overtime could cause longer security lines

Posted at 12:07 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 08:51:06-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The TSA has frozen hiring and overtime for its officers. That could lead to longer lines for passengers, according to Scott Robinson, a TSA officer and president of the AFGE Local 448 union.

"It has already. We're seeing longer lines out west," said Robinson, whose union represents TSA officers across Virginia. "It's only a matter of time before it starts impacting smaller markets like Norfolk and Richmond."

Norfolk International Airport has not experienced longer lines so far, according to Steve Sterling, the Deputy Executive Director. "We do anticipate slightly longer lines during peak travel periods. We have a good dialogue with local TSA management and are monitoring the situation," said Sterling in an email.

The freeze is to help pay for a pay raise and get the budget in line with the next fiscal year, Robinson said TSA officers have been told. He says it's hurting morale.

"If the hiring stops and the overtime stops, then there's no way to fill the staffing gaps that sometimes arise and officers are going to have to make up for that," he said.

“In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season, the Transportation Security Administration is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods. Additionally, TSA will continue to assess applicants for entry into TSA, and will conduct two extended hiring windows to coincide with the busy summer travel season," the TSA said in a statement, adding the freeze in hiring will be lifted in late April to make sure new hires are ready for the summer travel season.

Robinson hopes the hiring freeze will be rethought. "My message to the people who have made this decision is to rethink these hiring freezes to ensure that our checkpoints and our baggage areas are adequately staffed at all times to ensure our traveling public remains safe," he said.