8 TSA employees at Newark Airport fired

7:03 AM, Jun 29, 2012   |    comments
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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - They were supposed to be protecting passengers from possible terrorist attacks, but instead they were sleeping on the job. Those are the allegations against eight Transportation Security Administration screeners at Newark Liberty Airport.

TSA officials said the investigation was tedious. They started looking at all screeners in January, with cameras pointed at them. What they found was shocking as some screeners were allegedly sleeping on the job in a bag room inside Terminal B, where they were supposed to be looking for possible explosives in bags.

TSA officials also said they found other screeners who weren't following proper procedures. As a result, eight screeners were first suspended and then fired.

Passengers CBS 2's Christine Sloan spoke with on Thursday said they found the news appalling.

"That's horrible. You travel with your families and you assume that they're doing their job. You want everyone safe," said Eleanor Ackerman of Livingston, N.J.

The TSA would not reveal the names of the fired screeners, but the agency did release a statement saying: "Accountability is an important aspect of our work and TSA takes prompt and appropriate action with any employee who does not follow our procedures and engages in misconduct."

The union representing the screeners said it will fight to get all eight jobs back, and that none of the fired employees were sleeping while on duty.

Some fellow screeners said they're overworked and the union said they're underpaid.

"I can understand that, but they still have a responsibility to all the passengers coming through, handled in the right way," said Angel O'Dell of Tulsa, Okla.

TSA officials said their investigation will continue and that more employees, including supervisors, could be disciplined and even fired.

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, one supervisor was caught on camera sleeping in front of monitors that detect bombs. The TSA would not comment on that, but said it has zero tolerance for misconduct.

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