DOT CUs Scan Those 30,000 New Federal Employees

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The passage by Congress of a bill that will create a new federal agency and make up to 30,000 airport security screeners federal employees has credit unions with related fields of membership pondering ways to lure them as members.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently began recruiting directors for the new Transportation Security Administration, who in turn will be working to bring federal oversight to airport security nationwide.

"It certainly presents an opportunity for a credit union or several credit unions with fields of memberships that fall into that category," said Edwin Mills, VP-operations for the D.C. and Virginia credit union leagues.

The question right now is which credit unions will be affected and how many potential members are really out there, Mills said, figuring that a lot of airport screeners will be rehired as federal employees and may already belong to other credit unions that serve local airport commissions.

The Transportation Security Administration-its formation triggered by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks-will have a small Washington headquarters with offices at airports throughout the nation. A federal security director at each airport will be responsible for hiring and training federal security employees and directing all federal law enforcement activity throughout the airport in coordination with local authorities.

The initial phase will include the hiring of directors to oversee 81 of the nation's largest airports. Recruitment for positions at the remaining 429 airports will follow.

"Everybody is asking about this for a number of reasons," said Miriam Lieb, president and CEO of Transportation FCU in Washington D.C. "But we've not gotten any firm figures on where they might be located. Once we have a concrete idea on how it would directly affect our credit union, we will have a better idea on how to approach it."

TFCU has $120 million in assets and 18,000 members associated with the Department of Transportation in Washington D.C. only.

Faye Bell, president and CEO of the Florida Department of Transportation CU in Chipley, Fla., said she was excited about the possibility of trying to lure airport screeners to her credit union. The $35-million FDOTCU serves DOT, Department of Corrections, city, county and state employees in her district. That includes airports in Tallahassee and Pensacola, she said.

"We hope we get a few of them," she said, adding that she suspected there might be some competition with other credit unions in the state, including those with DOT FOMs and others with community charters.

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