Misconduct allegations rise for U.S. airport security workers

Thu Aug 1, 2013 1:54pm EDT
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By Chris Francescani

(Reuters) - Misconduct allegations increased 26 percent against U.S. airport security employees in the past three years, half of them over attendance and security issues, a government report said, but a workers' union said its members had "a strong record."

The report said that the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA), created after the September 11, 2001 hijacked plane attacks, lacks comprehensive systems to ensure employees follow its rules.

The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said 3,408 misconduct allegations were filed against TSA workers last year, up from 2,691 in 2010.

TSA said in a statement that the agency followed the "highest ethical standards" and had "zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace."

A review was carried out as a series of news reports in recent years highlighted allegations of misconduct by TSA employees across the United States.

Thirty two percent of the incidents involved attendance issues and 20 percent involved violations of security standards, the report said. Others were about drug and alcohol use by agents while on duty and inconsistent use of security devices such as X-ray machines.

A TSA union lawyer, David Borer, called the report "much ado about nothing" for 56,000 employees. He said "with about 3,000 misconduct allegations a year, that's 600 that involve security or .01 percent involved in security incidents."

"Anywhere else, that would be considered a strong record," Borer said.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani in New York; Editing by Grant McCool)