TSA chief will allow unionization, but only if it doesn't affect “security”

John Pistole, administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will allow 50,000 screeners to engage in collective bargaining, but will prohibit them from bargaining “on any topics that might affect security,” according to CNN's sources. It's remarkable because all topics affect security at an agency where “security” is literally its middle name.

From the story:

The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Friday will approve collective bargaining rights for the nation's 50,000 airport screeners, pressing ahead on a hot-button issue that has separated Republicans and Democrats since the creation of the agency after the 2001 terrorist attacks, sources tell CNN.

Congress prohibited airport screeners from collective bargaining when it created the TSA in 2003, arguing that managers needed the agency to be nimble in responding to the changing terrorists threats.

But in a letter to a union leader just two weeks before the 2008 presidential election, then-candidate Barack Obama wrote that if he was elected, “I will work to ensure that TSOs [Transportation Security Officers] have collective bargaining rights,” and said he would make it a “priority for my administration.”

What sort of things might not be considered a security issue at TSA? Why, the qualifications of those TSA hires, according to American Federation of Government Employees president John Gage:

For nine years, TSOs have had to deal with issues of dangerous workplaces, discrimination, selective hiring practices, nepotism, management intimidation, and reports of lax oversight at the agency with only AFGE to stand between them and an often arbitrary and capricious management.

Now many issues will be up for negotiations, including seniority, shift biddings, transfers and awards. I can guarantee that after AFGE negotiates a contract, TSA will not rank anywhere near the bottom of the Best Places to Work survey, as it currently does at 220 out of 224 federal agencies.

Selective hiring is an issue for the incoming union? I'm sure this will work out just fine.

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