Many trucking stakeholders still feel that the background-check process being put in place to cover transportation workers infringes too much on worker rights and costs too much.
“From background checks implemented on airline employees, hazmat hauling truckers and maritime industry employees, and the implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), we’ve sought to ensure that our members are protected through any credentialing process that would unjustifiably deny them their ability to earn a living,” said Santos Marinez, a trustee of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 705 in Chicago.
Marinez made his comments in testimony before Congress as part of a broad review of transportation security measures.
“Although there is no government mandate, railroads are requiring their rail terminal contractors to screen employees by utilizing a criminal history record check,” he said. “There are also a variety of ways, both inconsistent and haphazard, that the background checks have been applied. Different lists of crimes can be used to disqualify an individual, including misdemeanors. There are no established procedures to correct erroneous records. There appears to be no process for appeal of a disqualification and there is no consideration of mitigating circumstances.”
On the trucking side, the fact that the industry foots the bill for background checks remains a major bone of contention. Truck drivers seem to be bearing that cost most of the time, said Jim Johnston, president & CEO of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn.
“You can make the case that a driver should pay a reasonable fee to have a background check, but how many times should you be expected to pay that fee and additional ones that bureaucrats dream up? We have at least one member who has undergone a half dozen background checks for different government agencies,” Johnston said.
“Not only do drivers get charged higher and higher fees for these, but they also have substantial out-of-pocket costs and lost income from the time off work,” Johnston added. “It only makes sense for federal agencies to coordinate their efforts to minimize the cost and improve efficiency.”