Friday, October 29, 2010

TSA's Russian Roulette Gambit

Well, with the new terrorist threat uncovered today one has to ask once again, "why is TSA not federalizing the screening program at SFO?" There is now another round in the chamber! The stakes just went up.

We hope that their reasons for keeping a private contractor in charge of security are acceptable to those who will be asking the tough questions.

Who in TSA will be the fall guy and the one who will fall on the bayonet? Will it be Ed Gomez? Jim Adams? We will be waiting and watching to see how this unfolds.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Optional Training

The federal government spends billions every year on contracts. But some items on the Government Accountability Office website ( make me wonder about the quality of the purchasing decisions.

The GAO offers a course "Principles of Appropriations Law Training - An Orientation to Federal Fiscal Law". The website states:


Who Should Attend

  • Government personnel with finance, accounting, contracting, budgeting, property management, auditing, or legal responsibilities

Who has attended

  • Recent attendees include staff from the Departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor and State, the Federal Aviation Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, and the Library of Congress, as well as Army, Navy and Joint Chiefs staff and staff from other Defense Department components


No TSA? No FBI (Pistole's previous agency)?

Are you kidding me?

No wonder TSA's solicitations are chock full of broken links, questionable legal proclamations and apologetic "bridge contracts". It may be because TSA doesn't know any better!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Wicked

There once was an evil, nasty witch of the west. This witch eventually found herself in a pickle with a girl named Dorothy. Oh sorry, we got a little confused there for a second. We thought we were telling the story of Terminal Manager Shelley Burrell! Our bad!

But since we mentioned her, we can't help share a story that was sent in to us recently. It turns out that a short while back, a new hire was brought to tears over the way Burrell and STSO Linda Whidden talked to their employees at a guard mount.

Apparently Burrell was under a lot of pressure. And we all know that Whidden cracks at the first hint of pressure as well. You see, Burrell had TSA on her back. And as she explained to the TSOs, "I'm not going to lose my f-ing job because of the f-ing way you do yours!" This is just a small sample of the profanity laced tirade that transpired.

Being new, this new hire was not familiar with Burrell's and Whidden's lack of professionalism. This event was so traumatic to the new hire that the TSO almost quit. The TSO was talked out of this decision by someone else. This other person decided to relay this story to his "boss".

This "boss" now had to deal with the situation. Ultimately the incident got reported to HR and fell on Larry Perkins' lap. We have to give it to Burrell. When Perkins called her to inform her that he was starting an investigation on her, Burrell openly admitted to the obscene language.

Perkins, in his estimable self, called the new TSO to his office to discuss this incident. When the TSO arrived at the EAC, the TSO was presented with Burrell and Whidden standing outside his office with the most unpleasant of attitudes visible. The TSO was flabbergasted. The TSO immediately picked up on the intimidation factor and instinctively wanted to turn around and leave.  The TSO ultimately decided against it.

Once inside Perkins' office, he proceeded to explain to this new TSO that the individual needed to understand that Burrell is under a great deal of stress and pressure. He kept trying to convince the TSO that it was ok. After much insistence on Perkins' part, the TSO just said, "Are we done?" Clearly wanting to leave his office, the meeting was adjourned.

So what came of this incident? Well, Burrell and Whidden were terminated. Oh dammit! There we go again with the fairy tale! Of course nothing came of it. Just like nothing came of Dena Crawford or Anthony Nguyen or Gerardo Sanchez. These managers are simply untouchable.

All of this comes down to the question that we still don't have an answer to: What do managers have to do in order to be terminated? It's a simple question. Now where's the answer?!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pistole's Consultant Report

It's been two months since the Washington Post reported on Pistole's union impact study. This study will be performed by outside consultants and aims to assess the impact unionization would have on TSA operations. Did Pistole put that thing out to bid, or does he have executive authority to enter into consulting contracts? Most importantly, is Pistole controlling the number of yellow highlighting markers the consultants can use? Is Pistole checking to see if the consultants are paid adequate wages according to locality? Did Pistole check to see if the consultants subcontract x% of their work to qualified small business concerns or service disabled veterans? I know the purchasing department has their hands full, but is this all above board?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Upcoming Shift Bid

Some of the news that we're hearing is positive, some of it not so. Being the general skeptics that we are, we'll believe the positive when we see it. Knowing how Covenant Aviation Security has been with schedules over the last eight years, only rarely do they ever seem to get it right.

It does seem that DFL (Dual Function Leads), particularly those of you that prefer to work at night, are going to get screwed. Since Dual Functions are no longer the favored children, it seems you guys overall will be getting the same "royal treatment" that our CTX brethren have received for the last three years.

We don't know how much faith you guys will have considering that Covenant Aviation Security is using Ascent to generate the schedules again. For Dual Functions, they are hand selecting schedules for you guys from the CTX generated schedules.

And for more of "the more things change, the more they stay the same" department, they are bringing back the MRT. Oh wait, not the MRT but the MRU. Mobile Rotating Unit, with emphasis on the singular form of "unit". Note that if you happen to bid for this schedule you are volunteering ahead of time to be moved around even more. And you will not stay together with the other people that happen to bid for the MRU. The situation could be that one of you stays at a location and the other one goes to another location. Be aware of that ahead of time. They're also creating separate bid lines for ADASP. For those of you that like ADASP, this is now your opportunity to get away even more, perhaps.

The union is supposedly working with Terence Cunningham to hammer out these schedules. Let's see if they can accomplish any good.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Price these positions to the CBA rate"

SecurityFirst's last post relays a question from a prospective bidder that was presented to the government's contracting officer. The bidder points to the CBA and basically asks if wage increases should be incorporated according to the CBA.

A careful reading of the solitication, however, reveals that TSA has exempted TSO's, LTSO's and STSO's from the SCA (Service Contract Act).

The solicitation uses a phrase like "in accordance with the ATSA", but in my humble opinion they are making it up! They don't reference where in the ATSA is a waiver of the Service Contract Act. I certaintly can't find it.

The solicitation is long but that doesn't mean it's done properly.

Contractor Requirements Per TSA

There are three SPP airports up for serious consideration for new qualified vendors. They are:

1. Kansas City International Airport, Kansas City, MO
2. San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, CA
3. Jackson Hole Airport, Jackson Hole, WY

We've uncovered the lengthy document outlining the requirements that contractors bidding for an SPP airport are required to meet.

In the Contract agreement, TSA outlines in gory detail what is required of prospective contractors, including things such as how many yellow highlighters they will consume. What is most interesting is the ATSA comparison wage rates for 2010 on page 76. According to this chart, TSOs at pay band E should be making $61,422.16 a year to include the TSA Fringe. The TSA Fringe would be our benefits such as health and dental, etc. Note that these rates do not include 10 and 25 percent shift premium for working nights and Sundays, respectively.

Yet, TSA seems to contradict themselves when they are asked about this in the Q&A from prospective vendors. TSA states, "TSA's interpretation of ATSA compensation requirements are outlined in the solicitation. Each offeror may approach hiring and compensation as it sees fit based on the requirements outlined in the solicitation and subsequent contract."

When the question is about the premium shift pay, they refer the vendors to a broken URL.

The most fascinating thing about the Q&A is this question:
52.222-41(f) requires that a successor contractor pay wages and fringe benefits (including accrued wages and benefits and prospective increases) to service employees at least equal to those agreed upon by a predecessor contractor when the services to be furnished under the proposed contract will be substantially the same as services being furnished by an incumbent contractor whose contract the proposed contract will succeed. We note that there are SCA covered positions at SFO under a Collective Bargaining Agreement. Therefore, our understanding is that all bidders would be required to price these positions to the CBA rate. Given this, how does TSA intend to ensure that this requirement of federal law is met?
TSA's response is, "The government will ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations as necessary and in accordance with applicable policies." So if our understanding is correct, and we're opened to the possibility that we're not, then this would mean that if a new contractor were to take over, they would be required to honor our current and future wages and benefits.

A lot of the questions have to do with SFO and our CBA. It's understandable. Of the three airports, SFO is the biggest contract. So naturally, prospective contractors want to know specifics on our airport and its operations. Yet, TSA is unwilling to get in to too many specifics. Most of the answers are that that information is privy to the current contractor, i.e. Covenant Aviation Security.

One of the pressing questions we have, of all the SPP airports why these three in special contention? Is TSA determined to have new contractors for these airports or is this just a dog and pony show? Only time will answer these questions. We will just have to wait for the bridge contract signed in August to expire to get the answers to these questions.

We have uploaded all three relevant documents to Google docs. The contractor requirements is quite lengthy and a lot of it is useless information, but it's still a fascinating perusal. You can download the contractor requirements here.  The first Q&A here, and the second Q&A here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update to the fire sale

We got word earlier today that one of those people fired for attendance was re-instated. Good for that person! The details of that particular case aren't important here on a public forum, but it seems that the company once again screwed up on such matters.

It should be obvious that Covenant Aviation Security would be wise to make certain they have all their ducks in a row BEFORE they terminate someone. Then again, we're just stating the obvious and over the last eight years it's apparent this company chooses to ignore the obvious time and time again.

It does seem that the union came through for this individual. And kudos to them! It's good to see SOME return on our investment.

Covenant Aviation Security no longer hiring

Well, at least not at SFO. According to their own web page, there are no more openings currently for their SFO location. Of course, this is nothing new. Covenant Aviation Security regularly hires and stops hiring due to operational needs. (Ooh, you like how I threw that in there?)

Supposedly, Covenant Aviation Security doesn't have a say in when and how many they are allowed to hire. The prevailing wisdom is that it is TSA who decides that.

So, if you had any friends or relatives interested, tell them they will have to wait. It will only be a matter of time. Hey, it's not as though people regularly quit their job with Covenant Aviation Security for a less paying and fewer benefits job, right? Nah!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Will they get it right this time?

Bid lines are scheduled to be previewed next week; will our wonderful management team fall flat on their faces once again?

It should not be that hard to figure out a schedule, just look at how many people are shifted around each and every day and to where.

That part may be beyond the capabilities of our mental midgets. We seem to have collected all the available village idiots and made them an offer that they could not refuse. At some point, after so many failed attempts to get it right, the axe should fall. But, as we all know, that rarely happens to the chosen ones.

Let's try something new! How about using a suggestion box in the EAC for our opinions and helpful suggestions? Let's ask the boots on the ground for some help, after all, we are the ones who have to live through the shortcomings and shortsightedness. This way you could shift the blame on us, because you will never give us any credit for anything good that happens around here.

As usual, we will be judging your efforts and voicing our opinions. Prove to us that our criticism is unwarranted and that you can learn from your mistakes.

Akal Makes the List

The sh!t list that is.

The United States Government Accountability Office just released a report titled "FEDERAL CONTRACTING Assessments and Citations of Federal Labor Law Violations by Selected Federal Contractors". This report features Akal Security.

You can find the report at

Obviously, Akal is responsible for its actions and may face the consequences. The report seems to suggest that the politicians are curious as to why these contractors maintain their eligibility, why the Department of Labor doesn't use its nuclear option to bar these contractors from bidding and working on federal contracts.

But if the politicos push to restrict competition across federal contracts, including the Screening Partnership Program, maybe its time to start talking about killing the SPP, instead of trying to gerrymander the thing to benefit operations like CAS/SEIU.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lori's and Firewood closing their pre-security locations

Sheesh, the food selection at SFO isn't great to begin with, but it's understandable why they're doing it. According to this SF Examiner article, the airport is looking to find ways to use those empty spaces, such as security queues.

For being an international airport, the selection of food @ SFO has always been lacking. And the choices in Terminal 2 aren't looking to be much better. It seems as though they're going to be an awful lot of high end restaurants. As though prices at airports in general aren't ridiculous to begin with!

Oh well, let's hope for better choices for employees by some other means.

Monday, October 4, 2010


In case you were wondering what is GASS (the program Roberto Cabelin recently left involuntarily), I took a look at the SFO Airport Commission's agenda and minutes for some enlightenment. GASS is not a TSA thing except TSA told the airports to strengthen some aspects of airfield security, such as vendor food shipments. But the airport foots the bill.

On September 19, 2006 the airport commission approved an emergency contract with Primeflight Aviation Services, Inc. for security inspection services.

On April 16, 2007, the airport put out a Request for Quotations for General Airport Security Services to replace the existing emergency contract.

On September 4, 2007, the airport authorized a pool of qualified firms.

On October 16, 2007, the airport selected the top ranked vendor, Covenant Aviation Security LLC. The contract was for two years at $1.2 million, with a mention of three one-year options.

And, of course, this can be found in the minutes: "Employees hired by Covenant Aviation Security LLC for this contract will be represented by SEIU." (See page 9 about halfway down the page.) No surprise there. Who knows if its legal, but there you go.

Folks, if you ever do business with San Francisco International Airport, that's how you play the game. I might wonder if there were other qualified firms that hadn't made the commitment to recognize SEIU, but that would be silly of me wouldn't it?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A sucker born every minute

You may or may not remember a post a month ago outlining exactly what happened with the Assistant Terminal Manager position recently filled by Barbara Alvarenga. Well, we have uncovered some new information on that position.

If what we can gather from this job posting on SFO's web site, then the Floor Supervisors that were dangled that promotion never had a chance. We don't know exactly when the job posting was posted, but the filing deadline was February 12, 2010. If Covenant Aviation Security, i.e. Donnie Filbert, was serious about leaving that position opened to their Floor Supervisors, then why would they have posted this on SFO's and other job websites around the same time they posted it for the Floor Supervisors?

One can only safely assume then, that Covenant Aviation Security never had any intentions of giving that position to their Floor Supervisors. Of course, we already knew this, but this gives us hard evidence of this fact.

We really hope that the Floor Supervisors are content doing the menial work of managers without the pay and title to go along with it.

The original job posting has been saved for posterity just in case SFO takes it down.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cost Analysis

A 2007 study commissioned by TSA found that screening cost at SPP airports were 17% higher than at TSA screened airports. When using a broader base that included all 450 airports the cost were only a mere 9% higher.
The study also pointed out that TSA maintains redundant administrative staff and overhead at SPP airports and that those costs artificially inflate the estimated cost at SPP airports. (But not by much.)

Recommendations from the study recommended that TSA should:

Reduce its own administrative and general cost at SPP airports,

Use SPP at hard to hire airports or at airports with large seasonal requirements. (SFO does not meet either of these definitions.)

This report was not released but refer to GAO-09-27R

So, why is it that TSA doesn't want to federalize SFO?

-Howard Beale

Former Covenant Aviation Security worker denied unemployment benefits

We stumbled across this story about a former Covenant Aviation Security employee being denied his unemployment benefits from Covenant Aviation Security. This former employee is not a TSO, LTSO, etc., he was one of the guys who performed security at the Annex next to International G.

According to the story, he was terminated because his supervisor claimed to have caught him sleeping. Roberto Cabelin, the terminated employee, denies that.

None of us here know the particular facts and since Covenant Aviation Security refused to comment on the story, we only have one side of the story. We've embedded the video attached to the story below. Judge for yourself.

Fire sale alert!!!

Reports are coming in that many people over the last week or so have been terminated, including some STSOs. Most are due to attendance and a recent drug and alcohol test performed.

There's not much to say on the attendance issue, is there? Really folks, it's always best not to play the game unless you have or need to do so. It's best to save your PTO when you need it. And always remember that there is Kincare.

In terms of the drug and alcohol tests, well, we all know that when we signed on the dotted line for this job that drug testing was part of the package. No real defense in this matter. The only question that does come up is the randomness of it. Is it truly random? You have employees that have been there 3, 4, 5+ years and have never been drug tested. Then you have employees who get drug tested multiple times in a month. Perhaps this "randomness" proves that it really is random. We'll never know.

Be that as it may, guys keep your nose figuratively and literally clean. If you are going to a party over the weekend, it's better to call in if you're not going to be able to get over your intoxication. Stay safe, and more importantly, don't do anything stupid to lose your job. It's far better to leave on your own terms, than on Covenant Aviation Security's terms.