Ridiculous federal job security

Ridiculous federal job security

September 19th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

There is no doubt that many federal workers perform their duties with every bit as much integrity and dedication as employees in the private sector.

But there have been understandable frustrations over the years with how difficult the federal bureaucracy and federal worker unions can make it to remove badly performing government employees, whose salaries are paid by taxpayers.

We saw another example of that in a recent Bloomberg News article on the difficulty of firing federal air traffic controllers whose work was substandard -- and in some cases had deadly results!

In one instance, a New Jersey air traffic controller was on the phone telling another airport worker a joke just before a plane and a helicopter collided near Manhattan in 2009. The controller was supposed to be in contact with the pilot of the airplane but was distracted by the phone call. A total of nine people died in the crash, and authorities said the air traffic controller was partly to blame.

So, was he promptly fired from his job?

Far from it!

The Federal Aviation Administration attempted to fire him, but instead, he was only suspended, transferred and demoted. He continued working for the FAA.

Lest you think that was just a bizarre exception, Bloomberg found that "More than four of every 10 air-traffic workers the FAA tried to fire over almost two years kept their jobs or were allowed to retire ... . That included two-thirds of those targeted for firing over drug or alcohol violations."

And nearly half of the workers whom the FAA sought to fire not only weren't dismissed but "had penalties rescinded, reduced or deferred."

The union that represents the workers was evasive when Bloomberg News asked for a response to those alarming findings. The union simply said controllers work to make the United States' air traffic system "the world's safest."

That may well be true for most controllers. But it is ridiculous that it is so hard to get rid of the minority of air traffic controllers who do not live up to that standard.

When taxpayers are paying workers' salaries, at whatever level of government, standards of performance should be high -- and firmly enforced.


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