Originally published September 26 2013
Forty-seven TSA workers suspended for running illegal gambling ring on the job at Pittsburgh airport
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The Transportation Security Administration, created out of whole cloth as a division of the Department of Homeland Security following 9/11, has quickly become the most egregious of all federal agencies, with a history of criminality unrivaled among the vast bureaucracy in Washington.
The latest incident allegedly involves dozens of TSA agents suspected of operating a gambling ring. What's more, depending on the outcome of the TSA's "appeals process," agency brass may have to let the employees off the hook. Per local CBS affiliate KDKA:
Dozens of local Transportation Security Administration workers have been fired or suspended after they were caught in an illegal gambling ring at Pittsburgh International Airport.
TSA sources tell the KDKA Investigators that the officers were fired or suspended Thursday morning. The investigation took a few months. TSA took a look at more than 300 of its employees who work at Pittsburgh International Airport.
'Absurd and ridiculous' - like union outrage
According to sources who spoke to the affiliate, TSA employees who were on the job set up office betting pools, of sorts, with employees betting year-round on all kinds of sporting events, including the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four, the World Series and the Stanley Cup.
TSA officials say no one made any big money, so there won't be any criminal charges filed. But sources told KDKA that the employees recommended for termination indeed made "a little money off of the top."
In all, five TSA employees were recommended for termination, while 47 others were recommended for suspensions and 10 were given letters of reprimand.
"TSA holds all of its employees to the highest standards of conduct and accountability. The agency has taken the appropriate and necessary steps to discipline those involved to include employment terminations, suspensions or letters of reprimand," the agency said in a laughable statement.
Before they are formally terminated or suspended, each employee is granted an official appeal process. Don't you wish you had that option where you work?
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review newspaper reported that the number of TSA employees in trouble amounted to about one-fifth of the total number of TSA workers at Pittsburgh's international airport.
Officials with the government union to which these employees belong defended their actions while criticizing the TSA.
"This is just absurd and ridiculous. I think we have better things to worry about," snorted Kimberly Kraynak-Lambert, president of the American Federation of Government Employees' Local 332 union - apparently unaware of rules for TSA employees. Per the Tribune-Review:
TSA's employee handbook bars employees from participating in any gambling activity while on duty or in uniform, including an office lottery or pool. It makes an exception for buying state-sponsored lottery tickets.
Maybe the employees should have read their own employee manual
As "absurd" as it may sound to Kraynak-Lambert, the union boss, the rules appear to be pretty clear to us.
"No one felt they were doing anything wrong," she told the Trib - as if how they "felt" about their activity has anything to do with anything. A better guess is, not a single one of them actually read the employee handbook to learn whether such gambling pools were allowed or not (and they're not).
The Trib reported, "A 2010 study by Florida-based Spherion Staffing Services found that 45 percent of American workers have participated in an office pool. About 68 percent of those workers described the 'fun of participating' as the top reason. Seventy percent of respondents wagered $20 or less."
The fact is, such gambling rules are in place, because the exchange of money, no matter how innocuous it might seem, can be empowering for some while intimidating for others. What happens if your supervisor loses to his/her employees? Or worse, if they win and set themselves up for charges of rigging the outcome?
The TSA's union can be ticked off all it wants, but to condone any activity that is clearly against the rules just proves how out of touch this agency - and much of the federal bureaucracy - really is.
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