KITV 4 News has learned that Transportation Security Administration managers at Honolulu International Airport have begun issuing periodic ?improvement updates? to employees, two months after 36 screeners and managers were fired in a baggage checking scandal.
On June 10, the TSA proposed the firing of 36 Honolulu TSA employees -- including six managers -- after an investigation found some screeners failed to screen checked baggage for explosives at Honolulu International Airport for months last year. Another 12 TSA screeners were suspended. Most of those TSA employees targeted for discipline have appealed their cases.
TSA managers have begun sending monthly updates to all 700-plus Honolulu TSA employees, sources said.
In its first update a couple of weeks ago, TSA management claimed there have been "some improvements in employee morale" recently, according to a memo obtained by KITV 4 News.
"Personnel are able to give input without the feeling of ideas being rejected or ignored," management told employees in the memo.
The memo also admitted: "Relationship between middle management and workforce has been dictatorial in the past on many occasions ..."
To improve communications between managers and front-line employees in Honolulu, the TSA will begin holding monthly meetings with top managers and 10 to 15 TSA employees picked at random to "candidly discuss on a confidential basis current workforce issues and concerns," the staff memo said.
TSA employees said the TSA office at HNL was already holding similar employee meetings quarterly and many of them feel that those meetings didn't bring about necessary changes.
?A lot of people are skeptical ... It's not the first time that we had a management shakedown and a promise that things would be better,? said one employee, who refused to be identified, because he could face discipline for speaking to the media.
One of the screeners' latest concerns: getting consistent guidance from supervisors and managers. According to the memo, employees said some people in charge of checkpoints tell screeners to worry about the length of passenger lines at checkpoints and work quicker, while other management personnel say screeners should NOT worry about how long those TSA lines are.
All of this is happening as the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, prepares to send auditors to Honolulu from its inspector general?s office this fall to begin a full management audit, sources tell KITV 4 News. Employees have been told to expect periodic visits from the auditors for about five months starting in September, a source with knowledge of the probe said.
Three of Honolulu's top TSA managers were fired in the aftermath of the baggage screening scandal.
Glen Kajiyama, TSA Honolulu's federal security director, was fired June 3, according to the TSA. His second-in-command, Assistant Federal Security Director for Screening William Gulledge, was also terminated, a source said. A third TSA manager, Deputy Assistant Federal Security Director for Screening Adam Myers, was also dismissed, a source said. It's unclear if any of those top former managers are appealing their cases to TSA.
Two supervisors also lost their jobs, but at least one of them is appealing his firing, according to people familiar with the situation.
The TSA has denied the initial appeals of at least seven of the 36 employees it fired in June, a source said, meaning those firings are final. After administrative appeals have been exhausted employees can still challenge discipline against them by suing in federal court.