Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Alabama Trucking joins coalition calling for modernization of security screening process for transportation workers

The Alabama Trucking Association recently joined 150 organizations representing trucking, rail, energy, organized labor, agriculture, third-party logistics providers, and other key supply chain stakeholders urging Congress to pass the Transportation Security Screening Modernization Act, a bill that seeks to eliminate redundant fees and background checks for essential transportation workers.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA) and Adam Smith (D-WA) along with Representatives Mark Green (R-TN), Michael Guest (R-MS), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV)

As written, the Transportation Security Screening Modernization Act cuts through red tape to allow workers to apply existing valid background checks to multiple TSA-managed credentialing programs, such as the Transportation Worker Identification Credentials and Hazardous Materials Endorsements. By eliminating duplicative screenings and harmonizing these programs, the bill would codify formal recommendations by the Government Accountability Office dating back to 2007. These recommendations were reaffirmed in 2020 in a comprehensive security assessment conducted by the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC).

“Subjecting essential supply chain workers to the same exact background check multiple times in order to receive different credentials from the same agency does nothing to enhance security,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “This system only serves to pad government coffers by forcing truckers and other transportation workers to pay duplicative fees for a background check they’ve already cleared. Congress should not allow the inefficiencies of government bureaucracy to impede the efficiency of our supply chain, especially at the expense of those hardworking men and women who keep our economy running.”

The massive coalition includes several organizations within the transportation sector pushing for a bipartisan bill to address flaws in the credentialing process for supply chain workers, as highlighted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). National ATA Chairman Andrew Boyle stressed that the bill offers a logical solution to reduce costs for drivers and fleets and improve government support for essential frontline workers in the supply chain, a vital part of the economy.

ATA Vice Chairman Wes Davis added that the current credentialing process disrupts the supply chain and discourages qualified drivers from obtaining necessary credentials. He emphasizes the bill’s importance in ensuring that the credentialing system respects the time and finances of drivers, especially amid efforts to recruit more individuals to meet consumer demand.

Congressman Garret Graves criticizes existing regulations and red tape, stating that they hinder supply chain workers. He sees the bill as a solution to expedite onboarding essential workers, contribute to economic strength, and reduce costs. Graves looks forward to collaborating with bipartisan lawmakers to strengthen the economy and supply chain.

Representative Adam Smith supports a more streamlined application process for transportation workers, crucial to the economy. He is pleased to have garnered support from various organizations, expressing eagerness to work with colleagues to advance this significant piece of legislation.

Coalition leaders stressed that this long-overdue reform would reduce costs and hassles for workers like truck drivers, pipeline operators, longshoremen, and warehouse managers, among many others, who must obtain these credentials as a condition of employment.

The bill does not make any modifications to the backend security assessment conducted on individual applicants, ensuring that they undergo the same level of review as they do under current law.