Report says TWIC has cost 10,000 port workers, others their jobs

| 7/13/2009

Most major U.S. ports now require the Transportation Worker Identification Credential for truck drivers, longshoremen and other workers after the Transportation Security Administration rolled out enrollment and enforcement during the last year.

In that time, however, at least 10,000 jobs have been lost because of delays and hangups in the TWIC system, according to one study recently made public.

The National Employment Law Project released a study last week, which says that TSA background checks left workers unemployed for 69 days on average as the agency sorted out criminal records and immigration status of TWIC applicants.

“As a result, more than 10,000 were left unemployed without their TWIC card in the midst of a devastating recession, causing severe economic and family hardships,” the report states.

The report also says:

  • Workers challenging initial TWIC denials waited seven months for their TWIC.
  • White workers were approved within six months, on average, while black workers waited 200 days on average and Latino port workers waited an average of 243 days.
  • Of the 54,000 initial denials issued by TSA, 13,148 of the applicants never filed an appeal. “Given that almost 100 percent of workers who file appeals and waivers are successful, it is likely that these 13,000 denials could have been reduced,” the report states.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been critical of several TSA processes during the TWIC rollout, including the price of enrollment and the ability of foreign nationals to access ports without background checks required by TWIC applicants from the U.S. One filing of the Association’s comments on TWIC can be found here.

More than a million TWIC cards have been activated. Estimates of how many total TWIC candidates exist have ranged from 750,000 to 1.5 million to recent estimates of 1.2 million.

The National Employment Law Project is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that says it “partners with local communities to secure the promise of economic opportunity for today’s workers.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer