Lost in all the hoopla about TSA’s turn-your-head-and-cough security checks and so-called new “porno-scanners” is the news that TSA is about to unionize:
In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administration staffers will be allowed to vote on union representation.
The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers.
“It is no secret that the morale of the TSO workforce is terrible as a result of favoritism, a lack of fair and respectful treatment from many managers, poor and unhealthy conditions in some airports, poor training and testing protocols and a poor pay system,” said AFGE President John Gage. “The morale problems are documented by the government’s own surveys. TSOs need a recognized union voice at work, and the important decision of the FLRA finally sets the process in motion to make that right a reality.”
When the Homeland Security Department was founded under Bush, the TSA was expressly forbidden from unionizing due to security concerns. TSA effectiveness depends on rapid response to emerging threats. After a British bomb plot was broken up in 2006, TSA overhauled its policies in 12 hours to deal with new concerns about liquid explosives. It’s hard to imagine that kind of flexibility under union rules. Then according to DHS’ website, in 2007 the newly Democratic Congress cleared the way for unionization:
“We appreciate the decision by Congress to eliminate the collective bargaining provision for the Transportation Security Administration from the 9/11 bill. This provision would not have advanced our security efforts but we appreciate Congress’ bipartisan recognition of the importance of the transportation security officers’ role.
“TSA will continue to vigorously pursue activities in support of active employee engagement and a participative workforce. All of us agree on the goal of a well-prepared, well-motivated team of officers.”
Once Democrats took control of the executive branch, they immediately began pushing to unionize the TSA, as the taxpayer is merely a host organism for unions that funnel campaign cash to Democrats. Last December, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., somewhat heroically made a stand on this issue and got DHS Secretary Janet “The system worked” Napolitano to admit that she supports unionization despite safety concerns:
Sen. DeMint: My question to you is not whether or not you’ve seen it work at a state or local level, but the whole point of homeland security and particularly TSA is the security of our — of the passengers, and if — in the beginning — and our debate — and every previous administrator at TSA has said that collective bargaining is not consistent with the flexibility and the need to change. You were telling us that you’re going to collectively bargain, even though there’s apparently no reason to protect workers. There’s not any reason to standardize various work requirements. Why do we need to bring collective bargaining into this process when we see TSA making the improvements that it needs to make our passengers more secure?
Sec. Napolitano: Well, thank you, senator, for noting the improvements of our — of TSA and the employee workforce we have there, but again, I go back to the basic point that I do not think security and collective bargaining are mutually exclusive, nor do I think that collective bargaining cannot be accomplished by an agency, such as TSA, should the workers desire to be organized in such a fashion.
Sen. DeMint: Okay. Thank you for answering my question.
Emphasis added. Clearly, TSA is an agency that Americans hate and isn’t particularly effective. Number of terrorists apprehended by the TSA to date: 0. By contrast, the number of TSA agents ‘removed or fired’ for stealing from passengers since 2007 — 23 and counting:
At least 23 TSA workers have been fired for stealing items at security checkpoints or from checked baggage. Most recently, a TSA worker stole “almost $500 from a wheelchair-bound woman passing through a security checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport.” Further, the Post notes that in recent months there have been “at least eight unrelated incidents involving practical jokes played on air passengers, drug use, leaving a security post and falling asleep on the job.”
We all know worker performance and discipline issues are dealt with swiftly when the union steps in, right? The fact is that the TSA badly in need of reform, along with America’s entire approach to airport security. Yet, Democrats could not put up a bigger obstacle to reform than letting the agency unionize. America’s security will be jeopardized, and meanwhile, the agency has law abiding taxpayers quite literally by the genitals.