Thursday, February 19, 2009

Phat times for TWIC workers

News that a Transportation Worker Identification Credential enrollment office in Mobile, AL, was closing its doors for Fat Tuesday raised a few eyebrows in our morning news budget meeting today.

Everyone associates Mardi Gras with New Orleans. Mobile, apparently, is even more serious about their pre-Ash Wednesday revelry.

The idea of TWIC workers enjoying the last moments before Ash Wednesday isn’t very funny to drivers who budget work and personal time in order to travel and enroll, and later travel and pick up their TWIC.

The TWIC program’s fees, multiple required appointments, delays and other factors have cost many truck drivers a minimum of hundreds of dollars.

Some drivers have had to travel hundreds of miles because of the TWIC program’s strict requirement that applications and pickups be at one location, and a power outage in the fall caused the government to lose computer records and enrollment information for many enrollees.

The Mobile TWIC office’s closing isn’t too big a deal for Uncle Sam and Lockheed Martin, the contractor handling TWIC. They estimate 100 port workers or truckers enroll at the office each day – a drop in the bucket compared with the 1.5 million workers required to have a TWIC card nationally.

During uncertain times, however, closing up shop for Fat Tuesday makes those truckers and Americans holding our economy together scratch their heads.

So make sure and tune in for the news footage of those costumed crazies on Tuesday. If they’re showing Mobile, you may see your tax dollars among the confetti, beads and untold drinks raised in the air.