The AAPA is supporting a proposal to extend the deadline for spending TWIC grants by five years, as well as requesting more funds for readers when the final rule does arrive.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is taking a different line and wants the whole TWIC scheme scrapped. In 2007, The Department of Homeland Security estimated it would cost US$3.2B over 10 years to fully implement TWIC, and ILWU legislative director Lindsay McLaughlin said the ILWU considers “that TWIC offers very few benefits and feels it would be wiser to spend this money on other port security initiatives”.
The ILWU is particularly critical of the criminal felony checks under TWIC, which, it claims, are excessive and “irrelevant” to identifying terrorist threats. “It is difficult to comprehend what particular access longshore workers have that warrants the TWIC program’s extreme degree of scrutiny and public expense,” it submitted. It recommends that only workers who actually have access to documentation on container contents be required to undergo background checks.
The ILWU cited cases where workers had been wrongly identified as having charges pending or having been turned down because government agencies had not been able to provide required documentation. Around 75% of those denied a TWIC (close to 50,000 people) appealed and 99% of appeals have been granted. The appeal process takes around 6 months and the appellant cannot work at a port in the interim.
“We strongly encourage Congress to stop throwing money at ineffective programs. A wiser approach to port security would be to invest these federal dollars into Customs, the Coast Guard and other federal agencies to implement container security and intelligence programs rather than spending billions more on TWIC,” said McLaughlin.
The ILWU sees no reason why it could not negotiate with the Pacific Maritime Association to come up with a “more efficient, cost effective way to ensure unauthorised persons are not allowed access to the docks.” It does, however, support keeping the dues process protections in the TWIC scheme as part of any new system. These allow any person with an automatically disqualifying offense on their record or who is turned down by the TSA to seek a final determination before an independent judge.