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TSA Just Disciplined 20 Percent of Workers at Pittsburgh Airport. Why?

September 23, 2013 at 9:10 AM | by | ()

Something is not quite right with this story, about the dozens and dozens of TSA employees who were disciplined for participating in what the agency describes as a gambling ring at Pittsburgh International Airport. Five people are set to be fired, 47 people might get suspended, and another 10 got reprimand letters. Some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations indicate that about 20% of TSA employees at PIT are caught up in this mess.

And that's where things begin get muddy.

First of all, it's not entirely clear just what happened. Depending on which story you read, employees were either running a full blown gambling ring out of their offices or they were just betting on some national championships. If it's the former, then yes some folks have to get fired. If it's the latter, then TSA inspectors and regulators need to get their priorities in line.

We couldn't find a single article that explains everything that happened, but if you piece things together you can kind of cobble together an image. It seems like there was actually something like a bookie operation going on: people were making money 'off the top' in a way that had nothing to do with the actual wagers. It was a little worse than just a group of friends betting on the Final Four, in other words.

The second question is about when and how and where the gambling was happening, which is really a question about whether security was affected.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has a TSA official saying "the integrity of the security process was not impacted." Gambling site CardPlayer writes that "TSA nevertheless took the situation extremely seriously because apparently it's relevant to airport security."

Which is it?

Because this question matters. If the gambling didn't involve security, then again we're back in a world where TSA might be overreacting a wee bit. But if it did impact security, then why are unions rushing to defend the employees? Because remember - per the promises that TSA made when debating over whether to allow unionization - unions aren't allowed to intervene when security is at stake.

[Photo: runJMrun / Flickr]

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