OCTOBER 03, 2006
A new bill designed to increase security at U.S. ports was stripped of a crucial provision that bans serious felons from working in sensitive dock jobs at the request of a powerful union notorious for its crime infestation.
Before the Senate unanimously approved the Port Security Act over the weekend, a special House-Senate conference committee stripped out an important provision that would have barred criminals from manning even the most delicate of port security jobs.
The last-minute exclusion came at the request of the powerful International Longshoremen’s Association the largest union of maritime workers in North America, which represents more than 65,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada.
A well-known for vehicle for organized crime, the union has thousands of members with criminal records, including drug dealers, arsonists and violent gang members. The problem is so serious that the Department of Justice filed a huge complaint last year outlining the decades-long stranglehold the mob has had in docks from New York to Florida.
Regardless of this documented problem, lawmakers gave in to the union’s influence and now standards for hiring dock workers are not up to par with those at airports and nuclear plants which require background checks. One frustrated port director said this creates a gaping hole in port security since the law essentially forbids employee background checks.
The Senator who authored the eliminated felon provision pointed out that the security stakes are too high to trust serious criminals who can easily be manipulated or bribed to smuggle a nuclear device or chemical weapon into our ports. Evidently, the union’s political clout weighs more heavily with Congress than national security.
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