In my most recent post on the TSA backlash, I suggested that part of the benefit of National Opt-Out Day was that it would put pressure on TSA staff to push for internal changes. Commenters objected that this probably overestimated the power of individual screeners.
Upon arriving at my duty station this afternoon, I will refuse to perform male assists. (now popularly and accurately known as ‘touching their junk’) They are illegal under the 4th amendment of the US Constitution, and any policy to carry them out constitutes an illegal order.
I’m not sure where this is going to end up for me. At some point enough is enough though, and good people need to stand up for what is right. I’m not on my probationary period, so they will not be able to simply fire me and forget I ever existed. …
update: I got in about 15 min early, informed my line supervisor that I wasn’t going to be doing male assists anymore. Boss asked me to wait, and came back, and announced a different rotation (not uncommon if someone calls in sick, etc). He didn’t specifically say that I was the cause of it, but it had me on xray. Before I went on duty, he told me that he needed to talk to me at the end of the shift.
Work itself was pretty uneventful.. that’s how working nights are.
At the end of the day, we talked, and I told him that I had a problem with the assists. Honestly, he was largely sympathetic.. like I told you guys, TSA isn’t full of cockgrabbers, or at least willing cockgrabbers. He then fed me the classic above my pay grade line as far as policy.
He said he cant indefinitely opt me out of the rotation and suggested that I begin applying for transfers, because at a certain point, he will have to report me for refusal. He said that he understands that I have to do what I have to do, and thanked me for being a reliable employee for the 1.5 years we’ve worked together. Not sure how I feel about this, I honestly feel that I am getting swept under the rug here. I don’t think any of my co-workers even knew why we changed up the rotation.
I think this validates my point. This guy’s opt-out didn’t stop the gate groping. But the supervisor was understanding, and if enough of this screener’s colleagues make the same objections, the supervisor will have to kick that complaint to his supervisor. With pressure coming from within TSA and from outsiders in the traveling public, it’s more likely that TSA will revise its policies in a sensible way.
That said, this is absolutely not an argument in favor of hassling the screeners. Screeners are professionals, they are (mostly) not perverts who want to ogle your naked outline or feel you up. They signed up to serve their country. So treat them with respect when you opt out of the pornoscanners, and when they start touching you in places only your lover or your doctor ought to. But don’t be afraid to ask them whether they wouldn’t prefer to see this policy changed, and if they would, ask them to mention that to their supervisor. If enough screeners do that, it’ll send a strong message, and could well bring real change. And given how intimate they’re getting with you, it’s hardly unfair to ask them some probing questions.