Tag Archives: TSA

Former JFK Airport worker charged with $7K watch theft

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screener at JFK Airport has been charged with the theft of a passenger’s $7,000 diamond watch, according to prosecutors.

Margo Grant-Louree, 41, of Montauk Avenue in Brooklyn, allegedly picked up the watch of Bindoo Ahluwalia after he forgot to retrieve it from a plastic bin at the Terminal 7 security checkpoint on Aug. 26, authorities said.

Video surveillance shows that Grant-Louree—who was assigned to that checkpoint at the time—picked up the watch and walked away.

According to the criminal complaint, Grant-Louree allegedly admitted to taking the timepiece into the bathroom and became nervous when she saw coworkers searching for the watch upon her return. She then left the area again and is alleged to have destroyed the watch, which had a round face and was covered in white diamonds.

Grant-Louree resigned from her TSA position soon after the incident. She was arraigned on Sept. 3 on charges of third-degree larceny and official misconduct. She was released on her own recognizance, and if convicted faces up to seven years in prison.

“The defendant was supposed to be screening passengers to ensure the safety of the flying public, but on this particular day this employee allegedly removed a very expensive watch from a plastic bin and kept it for herself,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. “This kind of thievery will not be tolerated at our airports.”

Port Authority Chief Security Officer Thomas Belfiore commended the agency’s law enforcement partners at the TSA and Queens District Attorney’s Office for closing the case.

“The successful conclusion of this investigation would not have been possible without their cooperation,” Belfiore said. “Collectively we will not tolerate a violation of trust by those expected to protect us.”


Chihuahua discovered at LaGuardia Airport after crawling into owner’s suitcase

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TSA

Aye Chihuahua!

One sneaky little pup was not ready to be left at home while its owner took a trip, giving LaGuardia Airport workers an early morning surprise.

TSA officers at LaGuardia Airport found the unwanted passenger on Tuesday morning as they were screening luggage in the baggage area and a black hard-sided suitcase triggered an alarm requiring the bag to be inspected, according to authorities.

Inside the suitcase, which was supposed to go through Chicago with a final destination of Los Angeles, officers found a small beige and brown Chihuahua hiding among the contents.

TSA officials worked with the airline to find the owner of the luggage and reunite her with the dog. Just like the TSA officers, the owner was surprised to find her pet and said the pup must have climbed into the suitcase while she packed for her trip and curled up in the clothes.

The passenger then called her husband, who picked up the dog at the airport and took it back home.


Queens mother-daughter TSA officers help keep passengers safe

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Lois Haynes

Working under the same roof as Mom could make some sons and daughters anxious, but it makes Monique Smith proud.

The 29-year-old Jamaica resident shares the same job, as a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at LaGuardia Airport, with her mother, Lois Haynes.

“I have been at TSA a little longer than my mom, but she has introduced me to a lot of people at the airport,” Smith said. “Plus, my co-workers are a lot nicer when they find out who my mother is. Sometimes they call me ‘Lois Jr.’ and I don’t mind a bit.”

Smith encouraged her mother to apply for the gig not long after she started working at the airport, about five-and-a-half years ago, according to Haynes.

“It’s funny when co-workers first learn that we’re mother/daughter,” the 49-year-old Queens Village resident said.

They once worked the same shift and at the same check point, but now have different hours and are stationed at different locations within the airport.

“It’s been a pleasure” working with her daughter, Haynes said. She is also thankful that her daughter introduced her to a job she enjoys.

As a TSA officer, Haynes work includes screening passengers and luggage, and checking travel documents. Additionally, she is involved with the recertification of officers.

“I am a people person and I also like to mentor,” Haynes said.

When she’s not at the airport, Haynes spends her free time with her daughter going to boutiques and out to eat.

“We have a very close relationship outside of the job,” Haynes said. “She’s my muse, she picks out my clothes, tells me what looks ugly.”

Though the two have different schedules, this Mother’s Day, they both have off from work.

Haynes, who also has a 15-year-old son, is not exactly sure what her family is planning for Sunday, but she “heard they are going to be making [her] a nice seafood dinner.”



Pennsylvania man busted at JFK with loaded gun, metal knuckles

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TSA

A Pennsylvania man is facing some serious prison time after he was caught at John F. Kennedy International Airport trying to board a plane with a loaded handgun and a martial arts weapon.

Richard Forti, 55 of Annville, in Central Pennsylvania, was passing through security on his way to Los Angeles Wednesday morning when he was busted with the weapons, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and District Attorney Richard Brown.

As he passed through airport security, Forti removed his vest and placed it in a bin to go on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed. It was at that point that a TSA officer saw the .32 caliber gun, which was loaded with five rounds, in the pocket of the vest, the TSA said. Forti also allegedly had a cat eye-knuckles martial arts weapon with him that showed up on the TSA x-ray machine.

Port Authority police then confiscated the weapons and arrested Forti, the TSA said.

At the time of his arrest, Forti allegedly told police “The vest is mine and I put the gun in there for protection.  Those are my knuckles.  I put them in my vest,” according to Brown.

“It is beyond comprehension why intelligent people would think that it is okay to board an airplane with a loaded gun on their person,” Brown said.

Forti is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on numerous charges of criminal possession of a weapon, prosecutors said.  If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.




Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Thursday: Overcast. High of 70. Winds from the SE at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Overcast with rain showers. Low of 64. Winds from the SE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Comedian Adam Sank

Widely recognized for his appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, comedian Adam Sank headlines a Pride Month celebration at LIC’s Laughing Devil Comedy Club on Thursday, June 6. Expect his trademark self-deprecation, including dating stories, the truth about Elmo and the latest on his “Mother From Hell.” Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYPD officer kills wife, self in St. Albans

A Queens cop shot his wife, then turned the gun on himself in an alleged murder-suicide Wednesday night, according to published reports and police. Read more: The Queens Courier 

Parents up in arms after mold found in at P.S./M.S. 114 in Rockaway

Parents at a Sandy-battered school in the Rockaways were up in arms after learning mold was discovered in a building that city officials had assured them was safe. Read more: New York Daily News

NYC claims bike-share program had 100,000 rides in first 10 days of operation

New York City residents and tourists have already taken 100,000 rides just 10 days since the country’s largest bike-sharing program’s launch. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Panel: LIPA as we know it has got to go

Following the disastrous response to Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to do away with the current Long Island Power Authority and have the utility run by New Jersey’s PSE&G. Read more: CBS New York

Administration defends collecting phone records

The White House on Thursday defended the National Security Agency’s need to collect telephone records of U.S. citizens, calling such information “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.” Read more: AP

TSA drops plans to allow passengers to carry small knives and bats onto planes

The Transportation Security Administration heeded backlash Wednesday and dropped a controversial plan it to allow knives back on planes for the first time since 9/11. Read more: New York Daily News 


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 55. Breezy. Winds from the NE at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Tuesday night: Overcast in the evening, then mostly cloudy. Low of 46. Winds from the North at 5 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Fish & Crushed Can Story mixed media art exhibit 

This mixed media exhibit by artist Iandry Randriamandroso is created from discarded, crushed aluminum cans found on the streets, and cardboard and burlap from local grocery, along with wordless hand-made books about a fish and a crushed can. It illustrates how growth is disrupted by invasive species. The exhibit is on display at the Queens Botanical Garden Visitor & Administration Building Gallery from April 23 through July 23. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Boston bomb suspect: My brother was the mastermind

The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has indicated that his older brother, not any international terrorist group, masterminded the deadly attack, a U.S. government source said. Read more: CNN

Canada terror plot targeted train in Toronto, NYC trains possibly scouted

Canadian officials have thwarted a terror plot that envisioned derailing a train in Toronto, and multiple sources say that Amtrak trains out of New York City may have been scouted by the suspects. Read more: NBC New York

NYPD investigate death of infant in Queens

The NYPD is investigating the death of a 6-month-old infant girl in Queens. Read more: Fox New York

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner returns to Twitter after sexting scandal bruised his political career

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is back on the social network that helped end his career in public service. Read more: New York Daily News

TSA delays its move to loosen restrictions on small knives on planes

The Transportation Security Administration said it is delaying the implementation of a new controversial policy that would allow small knives on planes. Read more: CBS News

Senate bill jeopardizes tax-free online shopping

States could force Internet retailers to collect sales taxes under a bill that overwhelmingly passed a test vote in the Senate Monday. Read more: AP


FEMA extends housing program for Sandy victims

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved a 21-day extension of the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for Sandy victims, Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday.

“The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program continues to be an essential resource for the New Yorkers who were hit hardest by Sandy,” said Cuomo. “This extension allows them to have a temporary place to stay and more time to get their lives back to normal.”

Through the program, storm survivors who cannot return to their homes can stay in participating hotels or motels while they try to find long-term shelter.

FEMA will call those eligible for the extension to notify them of the new April 14 checkout date.

To qualify for TSA, survivors must first apply through FEMA by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, via smartphone or tablet by using the FEMA app or going to m.fema.gov, or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362).



TSA to allow small knives, select sports equipment on planes

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TSA

For the first time since 2001, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is allowing small knives and select sports equipment, including bats and golf clubs, to be carried onto planes.

The formerly prohibited items, which were banned following the September 11 attacks, include knives that do not lock and have blades that are 2.36 inches in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width, novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and golf clubs.

Those items will be allowed in carry-on luggage starting April 25.

In a statement, the TSA said that the changes in security are so that it can “align more closely with International Civil Aviation Organization standards” and “better focus [the TSA’s] efforts on finding higher threat items such as explosives.”

But not everyone is thrilled about the change.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants, blasted the TSA’s decision.

“[The] announcement to permit knives back into the aircraft cabin is a poor and shortsighted decision by the TSA. Continued prohibition of these items is an integral layer in making our aviation system secure and must remain in place,” the union said in a statement. “As the last line of defense in the cabin and key aviation partners, we believe that these proposed changes will further endanger the lives of all flight attendants and the passengers we work so hard to keep safe and secure.”




Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of snow and rain, then snow and rain in the afternoon. High of 43. Windy. Winds from the NE at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Wednesday night: Overcast with snow and rain, then snow after midnight. Low of 32F with a windchill as low as 19. Windy. Winds from the NNE at 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. Chance of snow 80% with accumulations up to 2 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: I Love You, Apple, I Love You, Orange – World Premiere Screening in LIC

The dramatic independent feature, I Love You, Apple, I Love You, Orange, written and directed by NYU graduate Horam Kim, will have its world premiere at the Queens World Film Festival at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City at 7:45 p.m. Screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Fetish website creator takes stand at ‘cannibal cop’ trial

A Russian man who operates a fetish website where prosecutors say a New York police officer met others interested in killing and cooking women told a jury on Tuesday that users enjoy talking about gruesome topics including sexual asphyxiation, sex with dead bodies and cannibalism. Read more: ABC New York/AP

Queens Rep. Grace Meng pleads for lenient sentencing in her father’s bribery case

Queens Rep. Grace Meng is asking a federal judge to go easy on her father when he’s sentenced for a bribery scheme. Read more: New York Daily News

No raps in FBI shoot

The off-duty FBI agent who opened fire from his bedroom window on three punks breaking into his car in Queens last July will not be charged with a crime, The Post has learned. Read more: New York Post

Elected officials receptive to USTA expansion in Flushing Meadows if concessions are made

Park advocates are up in arms after discovering a letter from elected officials intimating they may be receptive to a controversial expansion in Queens’ flagship park — under the right conditions. Read more: New York Daily News

TSA to allow pocketknives, some sports equipment

Small pocketknives and an array of sporting equipment — banned from aircraft cabins in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — will once again be allowed in U.S. planes, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday. Read more: CNN

Venezuelans mourn Chavez, prepare for election

Shattered supporters of Hugo Chavez mourned his death in a flood of emotion that allies of the socialist leader hope will help ensure the survival of his self-styled revolution when voters elect a successor. Read more: Reuters

JFK security workers agree to hold off on strike

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Travelers headed through John F. Kennedy International Airport can breathe a sigh of relief, as, for now, security workers will remain on the job.

Employees of the Air Serv and Global Elite security organizations had voted unanimously to go on strike starting Thursday, December 20, right before the airport’s holiday rush. However, in response, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey asked the disgruntled protestors to call off their strike and, furthermore, asked contractors to meet with them.

On Tuesday, December 18, security workers opted to halt the work stoppage.

Both groups previously filed complaints with the Transportation Security Authority (TSA), but to no avail. The complaints, filed several months ago, cited problems with officials making workers cut corners during security procedures, along with substandard working conditions.

Since submitting the complaints, organization officials have “interrogated” workers, and forbid them to talk to the media, according to Prince Jackson, a three-year employee of Air Serv.

But the workers instead united, joining together along with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 32BJ, and authorized a strike at a rally on Thursday, December 13. Global Elite followed suit the next day.

Jackson said that since the Port Authority intervened just days after the strike authorization, employees have agreed to “hold off” their strike, pending talks with officials.

“We look forward to discussing our concerns with the contractors,” he said.

At a previous rally in October, Air Serv and Global Elite workers picketed outside of JFK, chanting for change. Global Elite employees said that many times, officials have them rush through inspections of an aircraft after it lands.

“Inspecting an aircraft should take 30 to 40 minutes, but we’re given 10 minutes for most flights, I don’t think it’s safe,” said Yonathan Verasteguy of Global Elite.

Despite a mandate for all airport security officers to thoroughly inspect each plane, many times employees are not permitted the proper amount of time to do so. For many turnaround flights, they must sweep through an aircraft quickly so as not to delay the following flight out.

Global Elite responded to employees’ concerns in a statement, saying they have always maintained an open dialogue with workers and go to great lengths to ensure a positive work environment.

Similarly, Air Serv stated they value employees’ input on matters of concern to them, and will be speaking with workers on these matters in the coming days and weeks. However, they also claim that officials became aware of these issues just last week.

A TSA spokesperson said that they did conduct an investigation, and found no regulatory violations but will continue to monitor the situation.

There is no set date for workers to sit with security contractors. The security officers at Global and Air Serv are, in the meantime, forming a labor organization to fight against suppression of their rights.

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 42. North wind around 5 mph becoming light and variable in the afternoon. Thursday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. South wind 3 to 7 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: 2nd Annual Figgy Pudding Short Play Fest

Laugh and drink with Unity Stage Company as you enjoy these eight short ho-ho-holiday plays.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

TSA screener busted for stealing iPads, laptops from luggage

TSA screeners are doing their holiday shopping in your luggage. Port Authority cops on Tuesday busted a crooked 32-year-old TSA screener for stealing iPads and laptops from checked baggage at JFK Airport as part of a sting into the increasing problem of sticky-fingered screeners. Read more: NY Post

Officials concerned about air quality in Rockaway homes

The air in the Rockaways may be dusty and taste dirty, but city officials say it is safe. “Just generally speaking, we haven’t seen an impact from Sandy,” said Carter Strickland, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Read more: NY1

Queens man pleads guilty in plot to bomb Manhattan religious institutions

A Queens man pleaded guilty in New York State Court to charges related to a plot to blow up Manhattan religious institutions, including the largest synagogue in the borough, the Manhattan district attorney’s office announced Tuesday. Read more: Queens Courier

Anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee arrested for allegedly entering Guatemala illegally

Software company founder John McAfee was arrested by police in Guatemala on Wednesday for entering the country illegally, hours after he said he would seek asylum in the Central American country. Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said McAfee was detained by police at a hotel in an upscale Guatemala City neighborhood with the help of Interpol agents. Read more: Daily News

Missing Queens man with dementia last seen boarding subway

Officials are searching for a missing man with dementia who was last seen boarding a subway train in a Queens station on Tuesday afternoon. A relative says Gary Sinclair, a 63-year-old Queens resident, was with his caretaker when he managed to slip away and board the subway at 42nd Street and Broadway around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Read more: NY1

Queens volunteer fire houses raising money for Sandy damages

These everyday heroes risked their lives battling raging fires and violent floods to rescue their neighbors in Superstorm Sandy. But volunteer firefighters in Broad Channel and the Rockaways are now working out of moldy fire houses with damaged equipment and water-logged rigs. Read more: Daily News


Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 63. West wind 9 to 13 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 52. Southwest wind around 8 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: The Mutations

Devil Science Theater is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Raul Ibanez’s heroics in 9th, 12th innings give Yankees 2-1 lead over O’s

The Orioles were two outs from taking control of their AL division series against the Yankees. Jim Johnson had converted a big league high 51 saves. But then Raul Ibanez, pinch hitting for no less than Alex Rodriguez, turned on a 94 mph fastball with one out in the ninth inning to tie the score 2-all. Two innings later, it was Ibanez again. Read more: ESPN

Relatives, friends gather at funeral for teen killed in LI crash

Those who knew Christopher Khan all seemed to say the same thing: he always had a smile on his face, no matter the day or the time. Funeral services for Khan were held on Wednesday, October 10 in South Ozone Park. Hundreds of relatives, friends and neighbors packed the funeral home to say goodbye to the young man, killed, along with four others in a tragic wreck on the Southern State Parkway. Read more: Queens Courier

Lindsay Lohan gets into fight with mom over unpaid $40K loan, accuses her of cocaine use before cops are called to scene

The Lohan family’s lunacy just hit an all-time LiLo. A screaming fight between daughter Lindsay and mom Dina after a hard-partying night led dad Michael to dial 911. He claimed his daughter was held hostage early Wednesday inside a chauffeured SUV. She wasn’t. Read more: Daily News

TSA disarms 9 at NYC airports

Airline passengers were packing an arsenal this past weekend. Screeners for the Transportation Security Administration caught nine passengers at the city’s three major airports with illegal weapons or contraband, the agency said yesterday. Read more: NY Post

Slain soccer coach remembered as search for killer expands to Mexico

The search for the killer of a popular youth soccer coach has now shifted to Mexico as family and friends gathered Wednesday for a memorial service. Dozens of mourners filled the morning service for 25-year-old Michael Jones at the First Baptist Church in White Plains, N.Y. Read more: NY1

Lance Armstrong not only used performance-enhancing drugs, cyclist pushed banned substances on teammates: U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report

Lance Armstrong wasn’t just a cheater who used performance-enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles, according to the explosive “reasoned decision” released by the United States Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday – he was also a dope pusher who supplied banned substances to his teammates and threatened to replace cyclists who refused to juice. Read more: Daily News

Unfriendly skies?

| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

It came to light last week – to our horror – that two separate groups of contracted JFK security officers filed complaints with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), citing problems with officials making employees cut corners when inspecting aircrafts and working within the terminals.

The groups claim that they are forced to perform the usually 30- to 40-minute inspections in 10; some even say they have had as little as three minutes.


According to federal mandates, airport security personnel are to inspect each plane and search for items left behind, including threatening items such as weapons, drugs or explosives. They are expected to open every overhead bin, search each row, open every tray table and search all seat-back pockets.

We don’t know about you, but when we board a plane, we hope that each and every inch has been pored over, so that the safety and security of all passengers and staff is assured.

What’s worse, according to claims, is that many security officers receive little to no training before beginning work, and are also given inadequate or malfunctioning equipment.

And aside from security within the terminals, JFK International has also experienced troubles at security checkpoints for incoming passengers. This summer, a Long Island student made it through security with a large knife in his carry-on bag en route to Terminal 4. Tracking down the passenger took airport officials 10 minutes after he had left the gate.

Additionally, this past June, the TSA closed Terminal 7 for about two hours after discovering a metal detector had malfunctioned at a security checkpoint, and that passengers had already passed through without being properly screened, as reported by the Daily News. In such a situation, procedure mandates the terminal be emptied and all passengers re-checked.

In this post-9/11 world, there are no excuses for any lapse in security.

Queens, home to both JFK and LaGuardia Airports, is like the gateway to New York – to the world – and if safety standards are lax there, it is worrisome what might happen, either on the ground or in the air.

JFK workers say cutting corners puts passengers at risk

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Things do not seem to be flying smoothly at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In recent months, two separate groups of contracted JFK security officers have filed complaints with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), citing problems with officials making employees cut corners when inspecting aircrafts and working within the terminals, along with substandard working conditions.

The most recent complaint was filed on behalf of Global Elite Group agents who perform security for several international airlines in JFK terminals 1, 4 and 8.

“Sometimes we get rushed by the managers,” said Yonathan Verasteguy, who has worked for Global Elite for eight months, and is already sick of the conditions. “Inspecting an aircraft should take 30 to 40 minutes, but we’re given 10 minutes for most flights. I don’t think it’s safe.”

Verasteguy said that it is mandated for all airport security officers to inspect each plane and search for items left behind, including threatening items such as weapons, drugs or explosives. They are expected to open every overhead bin, search each row, open every tray table and search all seat-back pockets.

However, for many turnaround flights at JFK, employees are not permitted the proper amount of time to conduct a thorough search so as to not delay the following flight out. Once a plane lands, they sweep through the aircraft and hope it is properly prepared for the next trip.

“My heart skips a beat every time I have to spend less time than necessary inspecting a plane,” said Jeffrey Uyanik, a JFK Global security officer. “Just this August, an airline representative told me I had three minutes to complete my search. Three minutes is not enough time to search the plane. I had to skip entire rows.”

Additionally, the Air Serv Corporation at JFK, which regulates vehicles within certain terminals and reviews passenger identification, filed a complaint with the TSA claiming security officers receive little to no training before beginning work, and are also given inadequate or malfunctioning equipment.

Global Elite has experienced similar troubles, being given faulty “wands” used to detect metal. As maintenance workers board an aircraft, Global officers must confirm that they do not bring any dangerous items on board, which they do by “wanding down” the crew.

“Too often we are given broken wands that don’t detect metal. Too often, even when we complain, we don’t get a properly functioning wand for too long a period of time,” said Global agents in their official complaint. “On some occasions, managers have directly told workers to work with broken wands. In other cases, when we complain, we are given properly functioning equipment.”

Also in the complaint, officers say that Global Elite does not provide them with radios, forcing them to communicate via their personal cell phones, often in airport areas lacking service.

Global Elite Group responded in a statement saying that it has “an exemplary record of safety and security at JFK Airport,” and that it has had constructive informational sessions with its staff, and will “continue to move forward.”

Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson, said they are investigating the claims of both airline security contractors. They have not yet received the complaint from Global Elite agents, but have been keeping up with the situation via local media.

Employees from Air Serv and Global were told to not speak with the media, but intolerable conditions have forced them to speak out.

The select security officers that chose to do so, who are non-unionized workers, have begun organizing with union SEIU 32BJ to improve their working conditions, wages and benefits.

Aside from security within the terminals, JFK International has also experienced troubles at the security checkpoints for incoming passengers. This summer, Fox reported an incident in which a Long Island student made it through security with a large knife in his carry-on bag, en route to Terminal 4, one base for Global Elite. At the close of Memorial Day Weekend, thousands of travelers pass through the security checkpoints, and this particular 19-year-old was on his way to Africa as part of a missionary group. Tracking down the passenger took airport officials ten minutes after he had left the screening area.

Additionally, this past June, the TSA closed Terminal 7 for about two hours after discovering a metal detector had malfunctioned at a security checkpoint, and that passengers had already passed through without being properly screened, as reported by the Daily News. In such a situation, procedure mandates the terminal be emptied and all passengers re-checked.

On Thursday, October 4, members of Global Elite, Air Serv and SEIU 32BJ came together at Kennedy’s Terminal 4 to voice their concerns. They picketed, chanted and marched to Terminal 3, holding signs conveying their troubles.

“Respect our rights” and “our voices will be heard” were some of the messages. Workers also symbolically taped their mouths closed as they marched across terminals, showing how they have been silenced by their employers.

State Senator Tony Avella attended the event, speaking out in favor of the frustrated officers. He said he was “appalled” when he heard about their working conditions, and “shocked” when he learned they were banned from talking to the media.

“This is an issue about safety and free speech,” he said. “This affects every single person that is coming to the airport, and this is a matter that must be addressed.”

Queens Morning Roundup

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

DMV puts brakes on dealer 

A Queens used-car dealer will be driving off into the sunset — unless a judge overturns sanctions from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Auto Palace of Woodside was hit with two rulings: One would suspend its business certificate for 90 days; the other would revoke it permanently. Read more: [New York Post]

Queens’ controversial Triumph of Civic Virtue monument could be in line for a long-delayed facelift.

A crumbling, controversial monument on the grounds of Queens Borough Hall may finally get a long-delayed facelift. The Triumph of Civic Virtue, which has courted legions of supporters and detractors for almost 100 years, has been fenced off. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Wounded heroes in the family 

These brothers don’t run from trouble. The older brother of the NYPD cop who arrested a neighborhood punk yesterday despite two gunshot wounds took a bullet himself in 2006 while nabbing two bank robbers who tried to carjack him in Queens. Read more: [New York Post] 

TSA PO’d over plug outrage 

Now they’re electrified. One day after a dim-bulb worker caused chaos at JFK Airport by failing to notice a metal detector was unplugged, the TSA cracked down on its security screeners at the international aviation hub yesterday. Read more: [New York Post]