INTERNATIONAL GUARDS UNION OF AMERICA REGION 7
1292 Farmdale Ave. Louisville, KY 40213 / Ph 502-387-5329 / email email@example.com
April 17, 2012
Re: Discrimination against private sector employees
I have worked at the U.S. Census Bureau in Jeffersonville, IN as a contract security officer since the year 1993. I represent the officers at the Census Bureau site and at other government sites as well through my role as an International Officer in the International Guards Union of America. I am writing out of concern for my fellow officers well being.
For a number of years the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) has focused some of its attention toward contract security officers that work at government sites. While a check of the security integrity is well within DHS's authority, the methodology and directives are somewhat skewed. In order of expediency I am only addressing one issue, the requirements of gun qualifications for contract security officers.
When requirements for a specific group exceed those of comparable groups; it is discrimination and unfair practice against the group that is being held to unreasonable standards. Contract security officers, unlike police depts. and comparable federal services, are not afforded the time, opportunity, ammunition or proper instruction to practice and become more proficient in the use of firearms. All of our practice to remain proficient is done on our own time and at our own expense. All other training; CPR, AED, First Aid, Baton, Pepper Spray and etc. is done with a qualified instructor and you train until you pass to the satisfaction of the instructor.
The gun range, at one time, was a much more enjoyable experience. We would qualify by attaining a certain score once per year. If you did not make a qualifying score, the instructor would work with you in further training until you passed and were proficient in the use of your firearm. About the year 2006 the DHS did a review of the Federal Protective Services' (FPS) oversight of federal contract guards and found what they (DHS) perceived as deficiencies, after this time, the what we call '3 strikes and your out' requirement was implemented.
Under the '3 strikes and your out' requirement, the weapons qualifications were still once per year and if you did not pass the first time you had a number of days to practice (while still in work status) at your own expense, until a second attempt to pass was available. If you did not pass on the second attempt, you were removed from work status, still practicing at your own expense, until such time as a third attempt could be made. Failing to pass on the third attempt would result in loss of employment with no avenue for return to work at all. I have found that comparable groups go into remedial training with an instructor and are trained until they pass, with no loss of work time or status. No other comparable group that I am aware of has this stringent of a requirement to where you can lose your job with no avenue of return, but we continued on for the most part and passed the test.
About the year 2008, the requirement was increased to qualifying twice per year under the same parameters of the possibility of losing your job with no avenue of return. My only guess as to why this was done is that someone was disappointed that more contract security officers didn't lose their jobs under the first requirement. Weather and sickness are not taken into consideration either. I once had a pistol explode in my hand due to a defective round of ammunition, but was required to resume shooting and finish the course. The inane reasoning is that it may be bad weather when you have to fire your weapon on the job. The reality is that I seriously doubt there will ever be instances occur in bad weather, at work, while backing off to various distances and expelling fifty rounds of ammunition. The seriousness is that many of my coworkers and friends have lost their jobs due to the gun range requirements. These were good, honest, trustworthy and dedicated individuals that for one reason or another just didn't pass one of the qualifications.
At present time (2012) the gun qualification parameters have changed once again. Now, if you do not pass on the first attempt, you are removed from work status and the same 3 strikes and your out rule applies with no avenue of return to work. Didn't lose enough contract security officers yet I guess? Is this some attempt at age discrimination? It is certainly in my opinion, discrimination against a specific group of individuals.
It seems that nearly every time a requirement comes down, someone points to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 as reasoning for it. Allow me to enlighten you on a few little known details of 9/11/01, thirty three security officers lost their lives in the attack. These officers stood their ground and did their jobs during the chaos that ensued. In the aftermath while some of our government overseers were busy flailing their arms in the air and adding to the panicked atmosphere, our officers came in, did their jobs and worked to restore order and a sense of security to a fearful public. We followed directives as they were handed down, sometimes several throughout the day (most were not needed) and all this before DHS was formed. We stayed the course and we held our ground because we are Americans and that's what Americans do.
We are the people that greet you in the morning even though we may be ill or not feel so cheerful. We are the people that stand ready to act in the face of danger. We are the people that stand watch while you sleep. We have proven ourselves to be honest, trustworthy and loyal time and again. We only ask to be treated fairly and help us to retain our dedicated experienced and well trained officers.
Ernie Dunn, President
IGUA Region 7
CC. Senate Committee on DHS and Govt Affairs / DHS: Janet Napolitano, Director, / House Committee on Oversight and Govt Reform / Inspector General Office / DOL Secretary Solis / Commerce Dept. Tom Sherman, CO, / Debra Rochner, RSO / Brian Fleenor COTR / Dave Hackbarth, Director / OGC Cameron F. Kerry / US Attorney General Eric H. Holden, Jr. / IGUA International General President, Randy Lawson / Irwin Cutler Esq.