Legislation would put a stop to TSA agents treating Americans as if “they are cattle, not people”
Source: Steve Watson
A Democratic Congressman is looking at the possibility of introducing legislation that would make it law for TSA employees to treat the public with respect and politeness at transport hubs.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) revealed the potential move at a Congressional hearing this week into the TSA’s Screening Partnership Program.
“There’s no excuse for someone barking orders continuously at the public at any airport in America who is an employee of the federal government, or a contractor for the federal government,” Connolly said. “I’d lose my job if I treated the public that way and rightfully so. My staff would be fired if I find that they treated my public that way.”
“If I can’t get assurances that we’re going to take that seriously and we’re going to redouble our efforts to make sure that TSA agents or the private sector [contractors] are properly trained in customer service and show respect for the public we’re serving, then we’re going to have to do something legislatively about it,” Connolly continued. “I’m going to insist and I know I won’t have any resistance from the other side of the aisle on that one.”
The entire hearing can be viewed below. Connolly speaks at around 16 minutes in.
“I don’t understand how hard it is to teach people [to] make sure you use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you’re interacting with our public,” he added. “When we mistreat them by barking orders at them as if they are cattle, not people, we actually diminish spirit of cooperation,” Connolly said. “I’ve had it, and I think a lot of the public has had it. There is no excuse for it.”
Connolly said that screeners should be made to use better manners when giving instructions to passengers, as they are providing a public service.
“Every member of Congress is in the customer service business,” he said. “We experience what you experience. People aren’t all the same. Some people are very cooperative and some people can be less so.”
“We can have a high-quality customer service and satisfaction while also [having] just top-notch fulfillment of our mission,” he said. “The two are not incompatible. They in fact are compatible.”
“I happen to believe that the less pleasant the experience, because we don’t get customer service right…I actually think it contributes to less cooperation, resentment and a desire frankly not to cooperate,” he said. “We don’t want that. We want people understanding our mission.”
During the hearing, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, also threatened the TSA with legislative change to reign the agency in. Mica said he is planning “one way or the other” to privatize all federal screeners within two years, repeating a pledge he made last year.
“If you come to Orlando airport or Sanford airport, what is going on is almost criminal to American citizens, the way they are treated,” said Mica, who is now also head of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on government operations. “This is the mess we’ve created.” Mica added.
The latest Congressional spending bill would also see the TSA defunded by $225 million, with the number of screeners limited to 46,000.