Out of Control Policy Blog

More on (NOT) Unionizing Airport Security

Following up on my colleague Adrian Moore’s post yesterday about unionizing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees there are some other articles to review. 

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) wrote a good defense against unionization of the Transportation Security Administration in the Greenville News on Sunday.  His key points here were:

"The impact on aviation security resulting from a fully-unionized screener workforce is tremendous.

Consider how the TSA system works now. When the plot by terrorists from the UK was uncovered in 2006, new rules on carrying liquids onboard went into effect within 12 hours. If TSA had been unionized then, officials would have had to first ask permission of union bosses. And if the unions decided the changes were too burdensome on their employees, weeks or months of negotiations could have ensued, before any changes were made. Even in their recent response to the attempt by Abdulmutallab, TSA officials reassigned staff and changed screening procedures within hours, a quick move that would be nearly impossible under collective bargaining with union bosses.

The terrorists are not going to hold their fire while TSA and the American Federation of Government Employees figure out a work schedule that everyone likes.

It’s for these same national security concerns that we do not allow the CIA, FBI, Secret Service or Coast Guard to collectively bargain."

Another article appearedin the Washington Post on Monday as to why Senator Jim DeMint may not have it exactly right.   What is interesting in this article is the union’s argument how of “good” it will be if unionized: 

 
"Collective bargaining could bolster national security, labor organizers argue, by boosting morale in an agency that has suffered from dismal ratings in employee surveys. "Collective bargaining would give TSA employees a voice in their workplace, allowing them to join together to make meaningful improvements to their work lives and thereby increase stability, professionalism and morale at the agency, all of which will enhance national security," said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union."

While I simply “adore” my make-up bag (read Ziploc bag) as well as carrying all other toiletries is similar bags, at least TSA could institute that quickly and without negotiation.  

Shirley Ybarra is Senior Transportation Policy Analyst


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