Busy summer travel and more security lanes in the main terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport means the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is looking to hire more people locally.
"You're serving your country; it's a good job; it's a stable job with great benefits," Marty Robinson, TSA's federal security director for Minnesota, said Wednesday at a news conference.
Starting pay is $21.91 an hour for full- and part-timers. The job comes with a $5,000 signing bonus — half paid up front and the balance after a year.
While more than 600 people work for TSA at MSP, Robinson said he hopes to hire an additional 40 to 50 employees to help meet demand.
"Travel is definitely picking up here at MSP and across the country," agency spokeswoman Jessica Mayle said. "TSA is screening more than 2 million passengers a day across the country."
The number of travelers screened daily at MSP exceeded pre-pandemic levels on several days this summer, Robinson said. TSA officers screen passengers, baggage and cargo to ensure safe travel.
Not only that, Robinson said, "we're [beyond] the 20-year mark here at TSA and we have a lot of folks nearing retirement."
To bolster its ranks, TSA plans hiring events from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Marriott Minneapolis Airport Hotel, 2020 American Blvd. E., Bloomington.
Robinson said more workers are needed after three more security lanes were added to the south checkpoint at Terminal 1.
The new lanes are part of an eight-year, $450 million renovation of the main terminal, a project that includes bigger arrival and departure lobbies, new lighting and restrooms, larger baggage carousels and terrazzo flooring, according to the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
When asked if the TSA has been understaffed, Robinson said: "A little." But Neal Gosman, spokesman for the union representing agency employees at MSP, said: "Absolutely."
"We've been shorthanded for a while, ever since travel came back" after concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic eased, said Gosman, secretary/treasurer of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 899.
Gosman said the TSA is paying uniformed workers a retention bonus that's equal to 20% of their pay to encourage them to stay. He also said TSA employees must work mandatory overtime at the airport and "are not happy about it."
Mayle said workers are offered voluntary overtime and required to work overtime when needed. "This does not necessarily affect every employee every pay period," she said.
Robinson said the TSA's national deployment force has helped meet staffing needs at MSP. The force temporarily shifts agency employees from airports with reduced seasonal traffic to the Twin Cities during the summer and other busy travel times.