The information about the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) was posted at my union hall at the Port of Albany, NY. I am a member of the International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1294. The TWIC is a new identification card being implemented by the Transportation Security Administration under the Department of Homeland Security. This ID card, along with barbed wire fences, constant surveillance by spy cameras and guarded gates gives this government agency complete control of are ports. When this type of seizure happens in a foreign country the words “Police state” are used and the justification is the same: security.
I’ve been employed at the port as a crane operator for the past 30 years. I feel the effects of these rigid security measures first hand. It has changed the atmosphere from comfortable to one of anxiety that makes many want to leave before they even get to work. The spirit of what makes us human and keeps us human can’t survive when we are all in cages and under someone’s constant surveillance.
I am also bothered by homeland security’s ability to “people filter,” which it does by controlling who gets through the gate. Many people do not show up for work who use to come down to the port
We, at the port, had no choice but to sign up for TWIC and go along with Homeland Security. It seems to me, many things about this are in violation of our constitutional and civil rights. Many of my union brothers feel this way too but are uncomfortable about speaking out. The old timers at the port used to call me the quiet one. That sure changed when the fences went up.
The younger generation at the port only knows this new lack of freedom and constant surveillance. They only know of the freedom we felt prior to these restrictions through the stories we tell. That hurts me deeply. What all this security has done to me personally and mentally for the past few years I could never have imagined or wished on anyone. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to the native Indians being put on the reservation. Well, we are all on the reservation now and for the same reasons – security.