The Transportation Security Administration has announced the hiring of part-time security officers at the Bangor and Portland airports, but officials deny the jobs resulted from improved airport business.
"At this point I haven't seen an increase in passenger numbers that would justify the need for additional [TSA] staff," said Rebecca Hupp, Bangor International Airport's director.
TSA officials said the hiring has simply resulted from natural attrition. The organization noted that nationally, the number of part-timers leaving the TSA jobs declined by 25 percent this year. Rather than replacing Bangor and Portland's vacant positions with full-time employees, officials said part-time workers fit the airports' needs more efficiently.
"TSA seeks to achieve a balance between full-time and part-time," said Ann Davis, TSA's regional spokeswoman. "The benefit of part-time employees is they typically work during the busiest travel periods, which is a few hours in the morning and afternoon."
TSA shuffles its employees between airports annually, based on each facility's number of flights, passengers and other factors. Congress mandated a 43,000 full-time-equivalent cap for the number of security officers employed nationally by the federal government. Two part-time employees, who work between 20 and 32 hours, are equivalent to one full-time position.
Davis said she was unable to find the exact number of TSA security officers currently employed at the Bangor and Portland airports.
Davis said the administration does not hire seasonal workers, and despite the recent holiday season, the search for new employees did not come from the holiday push. New employees have to undergo a minimum of 100 training hours and then pass an exam before beginning their shifts.
"We usually cast a wide net and hope we attract a strong pool of candidates that make it through the training process," Davis said. "That way we have a strong candidate pool available for when vacant seats become available."
The new part-time security officers would be paid $12.72 an hour and receive federal benefits, including health and life insurance.
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