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Frontline Surface Transportation Employees Need Adequate Security Training

By Admin

Ms. Virginia Wise
Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement
Surface Division, TSA-28
Transportation Security Administration
601 South 12th Street
Arlington, VA 20598-6028

RE: Request for Comments on Security Training Programs for Surface Mode
Notice; Request for Comments
Docket No. TSA-2013-0005
RIN 1652-AA55

Dear Ms. Wise:

On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I write to comment on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Notice and Request for Comments on Security Training Programs for frontline workers in the rail, public transit and over-the-road bus industries.  By way of background, TTD consists of 33 affiliated unions that represent workers in the transportation sector, including many of the workers who are covered by the security training mandate that is the subject of this proceeding.[1]

At the outset, we express our strong support for the security training program requirements mandated by Congress in the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Act).  During debate on that legislation, TTD and our affiliates advocated for  provisions to ensure that frontline transportation workers are trained on addressing potential security threats, that their training incorporates certain minimum elements, and that the training programs are reviewed and approved by the Department Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary.  As TSA continues to develop the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement these provisions, we urge the agency to ensure its rulemaking strengthens security by adhering to the congressional mandate of the 9/11 Act.

In order for the security training programs to be effective, employers must be required to include the minimum standards established by Congress.  Ensuring that frontline employees are able to determine the seriousness of a threat, to communicate and coordinate with fellow workers and passengers, and to be versed in evacuation and security incident procedures, is critical during emergency situations.  While we agree that some flexibility may be needed to take into consideration the uniqueness across the affected industries, all training programs must include core elements to ensure a minimum level of instruction.  Congress voted for the elements specified in the 9/11 Act and TSA has the responsibility to fulfill the mandate.

We appreciate that some employers already have existing security training programs in place, and we recognize that some plans may currently comply with the security training provisions.  However, all training programs, whether newly established or pre-existing, must be reviewed and approved by the DHS Secretary, and programs found to be noncompliant must be remedied.  Doing so will ensure that all plans will properly train workers on how to assess and respond to security threats thereby helping to improve the security of our rail, transit and bus systems.

TTD notes that pursuant to the statute, TSA was supposed to issue regulations to implement the 9/11 Act provisions within one-year of enactment for public transportation employees, and within six months for both railroad and over-the-road bus workers.  Since Congress passed the law in 2007, TTD has consistently urged TSA to issue these important regulations; however, nearly five-and-a-half years later, the agency has failed to do so.  While we appreciate that in this docket TSA is seeking information on current training programs, the agency must move forward with issuing a rulemaking to implement this mandate.

The men and women we help represent work on the front lines of our transportation system and want to ensure its security more than anyone else.  But in order for these workers to protect themselves, passengers and the integrity of the systems they work in, TSA must ensure frontline workers receive the training that Congress directed and do so as soon as possible.  We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments.


Edward Wytkind

PDF Version

[1] Attached is a complete list of TTD affiliate unions.