Security screeners at Denver airport allege mismanagement

7 April 2003

DENVER (AP) Thirteen security screeners at Denver International Airport have written to a Colorado congressman to complain about management's unregulated power to demote and dismiss workers.

The employees, among 1,000 screeners at DIA, allege that mismanagement by the federal Transportation Security Administration has damaged morale and risked security.

Their letters were sent to Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and obtained by The Denver Post. The Post interviewed several of the screeners and either read or obtained all the letters.

In the letters and interviews, screeners said they joined TSA believing their positions were a patriotic service. But managerial powers to demote and fire without oversight instituted to make the new bureaucracy efficient have turned what was once a labor of love into a frustrating chore, they said.

"I'm tired of doing a good job and having my job threatened," one screener wrote. "It has gotten out of hand. I dread going to work."

Officials with TSA said morale is very high throughout the country.

Pat Ahlstrom, deputy federal security director for DIA, said the agency has exceeded expectations and has received acclaim from passengers, air carriers and airline personnel.

Ahlstrom said the complaints were probably coming from a few poor-performing screeners among the hundreds employed by TSA in Denver.

"There is a national belief that the government does not remove people that don't perform well," Ahlstrom said. "It was very much the intent of this organization to not have that reputation."

TSA director James Loy blocked workers from collective bargaining, citing the need to easily make shift changes in the event of a terror attack.

Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesman for Udall, said the workers' letters raised concerns, but said he could not discuss specifics without the individuals' permission.



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