Washington D.C. – A new coalition of business and labor groups is urging Congress to initiate a hiring surge at Customs and Border Protection and alleviate the economic and security crisis caused by understaffed ports.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents about 27,000 CBP personnel at the ports, is joined by leading voices from shipping, trade, travel, tourism and law enforcement to support the hiring of 600 new CBP Officers a year until the staffing shortage is eliminated.
The group sent letters to members of Congress on Wednesday supporting the Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act and encouraging the House and Senate appropriations committees to provide the necessary funding for the new positions.
“NTEU is proud to be part of such a diverse and powerful coalition of business, industry and labor organizations, all of whom recognize the urgency of having airports, sea ports and land ports fully staffed,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon.
NTEU for years has testified before Congress about the risks of CBP Officers working excessive overtime and being sent out for extended temporary duty far from home. The agency's workload staffing model shows a shortage of 3,700 Officers, plus Agriculture Specialists and trade enforcement personnel.
"Today's coalition letters show that legitimate trade and travel is threatened when there are not enough CBP personnel to keep all of the lanes open at peak border crossing times," Reardon said.
The letters cite the Joint Economic Committee analysis that 1.1 million people and $5.9 billion in goods legally enter and exit through the ports, making them a primary driver of the American economy.
"CBP estimates that the annual hiring of an additional 600 CBP officers at the ports-of-entry could increase yearly economic activity by over $1 billion and result in the addition of over 17,000 new jobs," the letters state.
In addition to NTEU, other organizations that signed the letters include:
- Airports Council International – North America
- American Association of Port Authorities
- American Association of Airport Executives
- Border Trade Alliance
- Borderplex Alliance
- Cargo Airline Association
- Cruise Lines International Association
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
- Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
- Global Business Travel Association
- National Association of Waterfront Employers
- New York Shipping Association
- United States Maritime Alliance
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- U.S. Travel Association
- West Gulf Maritime Association
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.