The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has announced its opposition to the American Trucking Associations (ATA) proposal to Congress requesting direct access to Federal Bureau of Investigation databases in order to conduct criminal background checks on port drivers and dock workers.
Under its proposal, the ATA would serve as a criminal background check clearinghouse for its members. It would provide the names and fingerprints of its members’ employees to the FBI. The FBI would conduct the background checks, and then provide the ATA with the results. Through this arrangement, the ATA and its member employers could have unfettered access to a broad range of sensitive information, including information concerning an employee’s past wholly irrelevant to seaport security.
“We oppose this fox guarding the chicken coop approach,” said James P Hoffa, Teamsters general president. “As we have seen in the airline industry, such unlimited access to an employee’s history, by a non-neutral party, has led to abusive practices-none of which were intended by the Airport Security Act.”
The Teamsters are committed to making the United States seaports safe and secure. To that end, the Teamsters recognize that measures must ensure that port drivers and dockworkers do not present a risk to port security. Those measures, however, must be carefully tailored to take into account sensitive employee information. The Teamsters would support a government agency like the Coast Guard to serve as a clearinghouse for employers requesting background checks. A single government agency clearinghouse would also help avoid burdensome requirements of maintaining multiple identifications.
The Teamsters will submit detailed testimony and comments to be included in the Subcommittee’s record and will testify at any future hearings regarding port drivers.