San Francisco Examiner: Company neglects safety, SFO bag screeners say

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by Mike, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    San Francisco Examiner: Company neglects safety, SFO bag screeners say

    Baggage screeners at San Francisco International Airport allege that dozens if not hundreds of bags identified by X-ray machines as high-risk bomb threats are loaded onto planes each day without any human inspection in a clear violation of federal rules. The screeners work for Covenant Aviation Security, the company charged with baggage and checkpoint security at SFO. They complain that company managers routinely cover up such security breaches and retaliate against employees who complain too loudly. In interviews conducted over the past year, six company screeners told The San Francisco Examiner that supervisors regularly clear dozens of suspicious bags in rapid succession with no inspection during peak travel times, a practice they say has gone on for years.


    However, whistle-blowers say they don’t recall a single screener being interviewed by the TSA in the agency’s first inquiry. They also were perplexed about how any investigation could fail to spot security breaches they say are documented in daily baggage logs. Whistle-blowers say those documents reveal that between 200 and 400 high-risk bags disappear off the logs most days on their way from baggage screening to baggage inspection, where bags should be manually inspected after screeners or X-ray machines identify them as bomb threats. Instead, bags are put on planes without manual inspection or given another pass through the screening system, which screeners call a breach of security protocols.

    Screeners had wanted another TSA investigation, but worry that their “smoking gun” — the baggage logs — will soon be lost. SFO is currently upgrading its baggage-screening machines with newer devices that won’t include records of past missteps.
  2. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    security theater h*ll. Warm up the calliope!
  3. Monica47

    Monica47 Original Member

    This is why I don't understand how passengers can put up with the humiliation of TSA screening (especially those who think the TSA is actually keeping them safe) and then not give a second thought to what is loaded in the cargo hold of the plane they are boarding. When I bring this up to friends who fly they simply shrug their shoulders.
  4. Frank

    Frank Original Member

    The company knows that all of these are false alarms, like that water filter, so why waste time?
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Blog run by disenchanged Covenant workers:

    Two more articles in the San Francisco Examiner ...

    San Francisco Examiner: SFO bag screeners blame privatization for alleged air safety lapses

    But disgruntled employees say that Covenant is instead an example of why aviation security should be left in the hands of the federal Transportation Security Administration.
    These whistle-blowers say Covenant once provided excellent security, but its work has since deteriorated. Seven screeners, six of whom only discussed their complaints anonymously for fear of retribution, say the company retains its contract by scrimping at the expense of safety. The result, they allege, is that dozens to hundreds of bags identified as potential bomb threats at SFO are loaded onto planes each day without inspection. “They get a bag of money from the TSA and their job is to try to keep as much as possible,” one baggage screener said. “This is why privatization doesn’t work in security.” ... But whistle-blowers claim that Covenant’s failure to hire enough screeners to properly inspect all the bags that pass through SFO is just one of many cost-saving measures. Since 2002, it has eliminated overtime; rolled back wages and benefits; and cut extras such as shoes, uniforms, laundry service and family medical coverage, according to Security First @ SFO, an employee blog created to expose “the managerial failings of CAS.” It also skimped on training, whistle-blowers allege, reducing screeners’ once-rigorous hands-on instruction to a computer-based program.

    San Francisco Examiner: TSA baggage screeners aren’t perfect

    Last March, employees at Honolulu International Airport were found to have loaded thousands of checked bags onto planes without screening. The scandal resulted in 28 dismissals at an airport policed by the federal Transportation Security Administration. The incident demonstrates that government workers are also capable of the kinds of mistakes alleged to be ongoing at San Francisco International Airport.
  6. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Yeah, they do a much, much better job at HNL and EWR.
  7. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Perhaps I am out of touch but my employer does not pay for shoes, uniforms ( business casual) , or laundry service. Is this common in todays business world? For me these are out of pocket expenses.
  8. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Here's another volley from SFO's disenchanted baggage screeners ...

    San Francisco Examiner: Staff cuts have gouged major holes in security, airport screeners claim

    Airline passengers may hate paying for checked bags, but screeners for the company that runs security at San Francisco International Airport say that if airlines hadn’t happened to change their fee structures, behind-the-scenes baggage inspections would have become impossible long ago. Approximately 50,000 bags traverse SFO each day, but company whistle-blowers allege that Covenant Aviation Security employs far too few screeners to inspect them properly. Two weeks ago, following a year of inquiries by The San Francisco Examiner, federal officials allegedly began investigating SFO’s baggage screening operation.

    Baggage fees had the unforeseen effect of drastically reducing the number of bags that SFO’s screening team must inspect each day, according to two screeners who work for Covenant, which contracts with the Transportation Security Administration. “That saved TSA and Covenant’s butt,” said one of the screeners, who only spoke under a promise of anonymity.

    This last point doesn't make sense -- the decrease in checked bags due to baggage fees resulted in an enormous increase in carry-on baggage, which requires more stringent screening. Others have complained of TSA choking on carry-on bags.
  9. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    In my experience, it has been about 50-50 for those services. At TSA we have an allowance for uniforms, but the laundering is our responsibility. When I worked as a Silversmith, the work shirts were given and laundered by the company. Many companies give their maintenance crews uniforms and laundry service, ditto for mechanics, others, not so much. I guess it simply depends on what the company decides to pick up/provide.
  10. Monica47

    Monica47 Original Member

    In Washington state an employer has to provide your uniform if it is something you could not wear outside of work. For example if the specified uniform was a white shirt and black pants you were on your own but if a shirt had a company logo or a specific patterned shirt they had to provide it but not anything to maintain it. They can require you to wear non slip shoes but as long as they didn't specify a particular shoe that was on your dime. In LA, at a restaurant, I was provided a uniform and extra money in my paycheck for laundering but we were union.

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