Sacramento Co. buckles under labor opposition to privatized airport screening

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Sacramento County’s board of supervisors on Tuesday rescinded a nearly year-old decision to use corporate airport screeners in place of federal employees at Sacramento International Airport.

The board voted 4-1 to withdraw its application for participation in the Transportation Security Administrations screening partnership program, which allows commercial airports to use private-sector screeners.

Sixteen of the nations 450 airports use contractors for such work.

The TSA approved the county’s application for the partnership program in July 2012 and began the process of developing its request for proposals, which takes nine to 12 months. 

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA screeners, acted alongside the Sacramento County Labor Council to stop Sacramento International Airport from participating in the partnership program.

The California Labor Federation also passed a resolution opposing outsourcing at TSA, and members of the Sacramento City Council signed a letter opposing the county’s application.  

The union applauded the board’s withdrawal of the application on Tuesday. 

“The Sacramento airport authority’s attempt to abandon its public servants in favor of corporations with only profit in mind was short-sighted at best,” said AFGE national president J. David Cox, Sr. “There simply are some functions too important to be left to companies that would be unaccountable to the American people, and securing American skies is definitely one of them.”

Sacramento County officials had anticipated that using contracted screeners would improve staffing flexibility and the level of customer service, but a report from the Government Accountability Office raised doubts about those benefits, according to an agenda item from the board.   

For more federal news from The Washington Post, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page, and PostPolitics.

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Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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