Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Required ID Card Hinders Port Jobs; Background Checks for a Security Mandate Rule Some Employees Out

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Required ID Card Hinders Port Jobs; Background Checks for a Security Mandate Rule Some Employees Out

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE MORRISON

BRUNSWICK -- Some port workers and boat captains may lose their jobs because they can't get an identification card required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Transportation Worker IdentificationCredential, or TWIC, is being phased in across the country. According to its Web site, "Merchant mariners and individuals who need unescorted access to secure areas of ports, facilities or vessels regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act will need to obtain a TWIC."

The Maritime Transportation Security Act is a 2002 law that tightened port security in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Port workers from Jacksonville to Charleston, S.C., were required as of Dec. 1, with a few exceptions, to have this identification card in their possession to enter port facilities. The Coast Guard ensures that port facilities and businesses are enforcing the requirement.

"This is another added layer of security for our ports and our port facilities," said Petty Officer Michael Hulme, a Coast Guard spokesman. "It covers anybody who works at ports, the majority of which are truck drivers."

Hulme said those applying for the cards are subjected to background checks, which weed out some applicants with criminal records.

"The background check allows us to know who should be allowed access to the ports," Hulme said.

Barney Wehunt, human resources recruiter for International Auto Processors on Colonel's Island at the Port of Brunswick, said several of his employees may lose their jobs.

"Everybody has to have a TWIC," Wehunt said, "from the truck drivers to the people who come to work on equipment. If they have business at the port, they have to have a TWIC."

At least three IAP workers have been denied because of blemishes on their records, Wehunt said. …

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