Friday, June 6, 2003 | 11:12 a.m.
WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security Administration has restored some of the security screener jobs slated for cuts at McCarran International Airport -- at least for now.
A TSA spokesman today confirmed that after further review the airport is slated to lose only 17 positions. An initial proposed cut would have reduced the 912-screener workforce by about 149 screeners, roughly 16 percent. Yet another revised proposal would have cut the workforce by 78 jobs, said Jack Finn, a spokesman for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.
The latest figure is not necessarily final, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.
"It's a dynamic number and subject to change over the summer," Melendez said.
But the agency arrived at the latest figure after in-depth reviews of overall passenger loads and passenger wait times at airport checkpoints, Melendez said. Officials also closely examined the physical constraints of each airport.
The original TSA job-cut proposal announced April 30 -- a national effort to save the agency $280 million by slashing its 55,000-member workforce by 6,000 jobs -- brought loud protests from Nevada lawmakers in Congress. They worried that the cuts would translate to weakened security, longer airport lines and unhappy tourists.
Last month Ensign, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., met personally with TSA Administrator James M. Loy to plead a case for smaller cuts.
Berkley was scheduled to talk with Loy today. She had asked Loy to not only scrap job-cut proposals but to add screeners at McCarran as passenger loads continue to grow at the airport. Berkley plans to continue to lobby for more screeners, she said.
"While we are pleased now with the TSA decision, we are painfully aware of the fact that the airport is growing and that this is simply not adequate," Berkley said.
Porter agreed that more lobbying may be required. "I'm really pleased with the Bush administration for listening. If we need more (screeners) we'll continue to lobby."
McCarran, the nation's seventh busiest airport, was used by more than 35 million people in 2002 and is key to the Las Vegas and Nevada economy as a vital cog in the tourism industry.