"The FAA did a full-blown audit," copying stacks of employee records and running tests, said Monica Serrano, United's security chief for DIA.
said we had no issues." The FAA
, which has previously refused to discuss Argenbright's performance at DIA
, confirmed that it found no serious problems in two reviews.
said Argenbright staffers quit in droves about that time because they were demoralized by public officials denigrating security screeners as uneducated and low-paid.Staffing dropped from 200 to 175 just when Argenbright needed 400, and then 500, she
The airlines at DIA
responded by training their own employees as ground security staff.They can't screen, but they keep the lines moving.
United authorized Argenbright to raise salaries from $9.75 to $12 an hour to draw more applicants.
But money wasn't the only cause of the three- to four-hour lines morning after morning, prompting business travelers and families to cancel their travel plans.Staffing early mornings was the hardest, Serrano
said."It's difficult to get people to come and work at DIA
.The buses don't run at 3 a.m. So United told Argenbright, 'We'll pay for taxis.' "
Day care was also a problem."Nobody will take your child in the middle of the night," she
It dumped three to four hours' worth of passengers on screening all at once, early in the morning when Argenbright was particularly understaffed, Serrano
said.United is now asking passengers to come two hours before their flights.
While Argenbright interviewed and did background checks on 800 people to boost staff, United hired another security company to take over screening in the employee parking lots, lightening Argenbright's workload in the terminal.
Argenbright is now close to full staff with 475 of the 500 employees it needs, Serrano
said.The last 25 were awaiting security clearances this week.
The dramatic change in the economy has boosted the number of applicants, Serrano
said.Before Sept. 11, Denver's unemployment rate was 1.6 percent, and it was much harder to find people to take on the difficult, repetitive job of screener, she
said.Now, tens of thousands of people laid off from their jobs in the airline industry and elsewhere are in the job market, and the screener salary is higher.
Now, Bostock and Serrano
must make sure the screeners stay, knowing they have to reapply for their jobs to the federal government when it takes over airport screening nationwide.
is hopeful that the lure of transferring to a government job will help.Current Argenbright staff "need to be on peak performance to be hired as federal employees," Serrano
But new rules posted Thursday require the government screeners to be U.S. citizens and speak English at least well enough to fill out reports.