Out There

TSA in Bethel

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on April 21, 2008

OK, here is a random topic that has bugged for a while.  The TSA is actively recruiting for employees at most of the Alaska hub villages, including Bethel, Kotz, Nome, Barrow, in addition to Fairbanks and Anchorage.   The normal starting pay for a full-time TSA airport screener job is apparently $24,432 per year, or $11.75/hour.  But in the bush they apply a 25% bonus for cost of living and another 25% for a “retention bonus.”  The resulting salary is $36,648/year or $17.62/hour.  They have been advertising these positions for years, I believe, as far as I know without a single taker.  Ciin?  That isn’t great pay for Bethel, but there is worse.  Then again, just casually looking online I see you can be an “eligibility technician 1” for public assistance with basically a high school diploma and start at over $48,000 with 24 paid vacation days (2 accrue per month) and 12 paid holidays per year.  For an entry level position?  Egads!  Oops, now I’m getting distracted.

The silly part is that they’ve rented out an entire B&B in Bethel for years now and filled it with TSA people from all over the country who come in and out on some kind of rotating basis.   So Uncle Sam is paying airfare and expensive lodging to keep these positions filled with outsiders, and all this is happening in the area with the highest unemployment in the state! Now.  I know a lot of Alaskans would say its because everyone in Bethel is lazy.  I’m not really interested in that discussion, so if thats the point you’re interested in making, I’ve saved you the time.  I’m sure Bethel has its share of lazy folks, as does anyplace.

Call me crazy, but here’s an idea:  Raise the offer you’re making (that has failed to get local hires).  Figure out what you’re spending on the Brown Slough B&B and on Alaska Airlines flying those people up here and back, and add maybe half of that cost into the offer for new local hires.  Presto!  You have local workers who are making good money, and the TSA saves a bundle of money (and I can finally stay at the Brown Slough again!).  The outside people could try for those jobs as well, but they’d have to take care of their own lodging, flights, etc if they’re hired.  Is it too much to ask to have people who want to live here in those jobs?  When they first came up I saw them asking little old ladies from the coast to take their mukluks off, and they either couldn’t hear very well or didn’t speak Kassatun, probably the latter.  I couldn’t help but think how it would function more smoothly, quickly, and quietly if a couple local guys worked there too.  All that said, let me affirm that this post is not about bashing the TSA workers in Bethel who from what I’ve seen are doing a good job. I’m aiming at the hiring structure, and whoever controls it and is trying to use this one-size-fits-all approach.

Now as long as I’m being creative, lets go all out.  One thing I’ve heard is that the TSA doesn’t pay that well but they have great medical benefits.  Half (or more?) of the people in Bethel don’t need TSA medical benefits, they get free care at YKHC already.  My overly creative idea would be something where they can opt out of the medical benefits for an extra $5,000/year or something or whatever the TSA spends on the average employee medical per year.  Or half that amount!  I think with these simple things the starting offer could go from $36K and change to something closer to $45-$50K, and that would probably get a response and it would save the TSA money!  The TSA’s usual template for hiring isn’t working, and they’re not adjusting.  If you’re pitching  your usual assortment of pitches and they’re hitting them all over the fence, and you don’t make an adjustment, you’re dumb.

Tagged with: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: