Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hey Vets...bend over and spread yur cheeks mates.. ya just took one in the butt !!

Well's a story y'all don't know about Cookie......

Back in 2001...following 9/11 and President Bush's call for folks to come out of retirement and help their country...many Veterans, as well as myself joined the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and other such answer that call. In hind-sight...not one of my smarter moves....and here's why.

First off...let me give y'all a little background regardin this here Cookie. I'm a Disabled Vietnam era Vet (80%) disability is primarily for scaring and has limited affect on my physical abilities. Following my Honorable, under Medical Conditions Discharge from the United States Navy Seabee's (4 years active duty), I became a Police Officer for the City of Syracuse, New York, and retired as Detective Sergeant after over 20 years of service to my community.

Now Sir...with all my prior Military training, Security experience, Law Enforcement background AND...having been a Certified Airline Passenger & Baggage Screener with a private security firm at the same Airport I would be working at.....I was a natural for the TSA. After passing all the medical exams, written tests and other criteria for TSA employment, I was trained and assigned to the TSA at an Airport about fifteen minutes from my home.

Upon beginning my duties as a Passenger and Baggage Screener, I also met other retired persons from various Police agencies, some of whom I had worked with previously and knew them to be very Professional individuals. There were many retired Professional folks, educators, businessmen and business owners, medical folks, retired career Military get the picture.....

Now...from this point it known that I am writing ONLY about the extremely dysfunctional TSA management at the Airport I was assigned to......I cannot speak from a first hand viewpoint regarding any other locations.

After a couple of soon became apparent to many of us, including another retired Police Sergeant, that the TSA management at this Airport was extremely dysfunctional and abusive to its employee's. Screeners were treated by management with the greatest of disrespect....a small example being that we were often referred to as "shoe-sniffers" (a term coined by a manager because we had to have passengers remove their shoes).

Whenever we would advise a management person that some policy, procedure or management action was against whatever Labor Law or Regulation was being violated....the response was quite often..."We're the Federal Government...we'll do whatever the "F" we want to got a problem with that?" Most folks...needing a job...backed off and took it...however...myself, the other retired Police Sergeant, and about twenty other folks eventually contacted the AFGE (American Federation of Government Employees) out of Washington, DC and informed them of what was going on. It's at this point I and the other Police Sergeant became a Union Activist for the first time in our lives.

A meeting was arranged for the AFGE organizer and any interested TSA persons to meet at a local convention center/Hotel. The evening prior to the meeting...just as we we're being dismissed from work...a Supervising Manager advised us all that they (Management) knew about the Union meeting and he informed us menacingly that we we're being watched. This of course scared many potential members off. A few months after the meeting, it was announced by TSA management that the TSA was going to "RIF" (Reduction in Force) a certain number of persons nationwide.

Now Sir....It should come as no surprise that in our Airport...and across the country, most of the persons "RIFed" had either organized AFGE Union meeting(s) or had attended them. Gee...Big Surprize! When "Rummy" (Donald Rumsfeld) was questioned by the press as to why the TSA was "downsizing" at a time when the National Security threat level was in the process of being raised (April-May 2002)...he stated that the TSA needed to get rid of some "Rif-Raf". Interesting term for professional folks dontcha think?.

In that myself and another locally "RIFed" person where both Veterans and/or Disabled Veterans, and should have been let go last (GI Bill of Rights). The AFGE initiated a lawsuit stating that our "Veterans Preferrence" rights (as set forth for GI's after WWII) had been violated...and we should not have been RIFed (an anagram word for Fired) before other less senior people. The lawsuit was made into a Class Action suit by the AFGE on behalf of all Vets and wrongfully terminated Screeners across the country who had been let go. This Class Action Law Suit has been in court since late 2002, that is till yesterday.

Well Sir....I was notified yesterday regarding the court's ruling. The United States District Court in the District of Columbia has ruled that the FAA(Federal Aviation Agency) and the TSA (Department of Homeland Security) ...get this... DO NOT have to abide by these Veterans Rights.

So...if I get this straight...the same Government that set up Veterans Rights to help war veterans, you know...the same Government I did my duty to...To Protect, Serve and Uphold...DOES NOT have to abide by these Laws themselves...Laws that which MUST be followed by ALL other businesses across the country!! As the church lady from SNL would say...."Now isn't that special?"

The Cookie Man would appreciate it if anyone reading this article who knows anyone in any Veterans group anywhere, the American Legion, the Disabled Veterans of America, the Vietnam Vets of America...any vets group...please forward this along to them.

In closing I'll say this. I love this great country. I, along with many others, especially Vets...could not believe how badly we were treated by TSA management at our Airport. I'll go along with the court's ruling...only because there is no other choice...but in my opinion...we were done wrong on several levels. I truly believe it's time for Congress to look into the efficacy of the TSA and its management style, procedures and actions.......but...that's just my way a thinkin.......Cookie......