TSA employees, honest and not
There are plenty of rank-and-file TSA employees who gain from the agency's mandate.
The agency has 60,000 employees at 450 airports. In June, 44,000 Transportation Security Officers known as "screeners" elected the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation's largest federal employee union, as their exclusive union representative.
Unionization was made possible for the 44,000 employees after TSA head John Pistole agreed last winter to allow employees limited collective bargaining rights.
Before recent layoffs, the TSA had been courting more employees to join the fold through the unorthodox method of advertising on pizza boxes.
"A career where X-ray vision and federal benefits come standard," read one such ad in the Washington, D.C., area. "See yourself in a vital role for Homeland Security. Be part of a dynamic security team protecting airports and skies as you proudly secure your future."
Some TSA employees have found a way to profit beyond their paychecks. Approximately 500 TSA agents have been fired or suspended for stealing from passenger luggage.
In July, for example, TSA officer Nelson Santiago-Serrano, stationed at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, was arrested for allegedly stealing $50,000 worth of electronics from passengers' luggage and fencing it.