Port Workers Soon Will Need Identification Credentials

April 4, 2008—Workers at the nation’s ports will soon be required by the government to have a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) if they are to have unescorted access to do their jobs at these ports.  Legislation establishing the TWIC program became effective this year.  The U.S. Coast Guard is now implementing the program port to port; as this happens, employers are required to comply by seeing to it that employees obtain their credential.

Some TCU members—among them certain rail employees and intermodal workers employed by contractors–whose duties require unescorted access in a port will be required to obtain a TWIC.  In order to receive one, an employee must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or an immigrant with work authorization.

Convictions for certain felonies will disqualify an individual from obtaining a TWIC for a period of seven years after conviction or five years after release from incarceration, whichever is later.  These include drug and weapons offenses, extortion, bribery, assault with intent to kill, and robbery.   Conviction for espionage, treason, sedition or a terrorism crime will result in permanent denial of a TWIC.  (Conviction of other felonies will also result in a permanent denial, but these are subject to the waiver procedures described below.)

There are further steps available to those denied to present their case for being allowed a credential.  This is due in large measure to lobbying while Congress considered the bill by TCU and other unions to assure that the program would include fundamental procedural protections for employees. 

Those denied a TWIC can apply within 60 days of denial for a waiver from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the grounds that they do not pose a security threat.  TSA will consider the period of time since conviction or release from incarceration, the applicant’s post-conviction criminal history, and circumstances surrounding the conviction including any mitigating factors, as well as references from employers, probation officers, parole officers, clergy and others.  The waiver application then goes before a TSA review board for a decision.  There are further steps available to those denied at this level including review by a federal court.

In addition to seeking a waiver, a TWIC applicant can appeal an initial denial on the basis that the claimed criminal conviction is erroneous, due to errors in the record as to the conviction itself, the date of conviction or the length of incarceration.

Members can get information about review procedures from TCU representatives, but in all cases it is the responsibility of the individual applicant—not TCU—to follow the waiver and appeal procedures. 

 “We remain committed to making the TWIC application process as fair as possible and will help local officers provide whatever assistant may be needed by affected members,” says International President Bob Scardelletti.