Will unionization take priority over air safety?

Air travelers and taxpayers alike are the biggest losers in Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole’s decision to allow airport screeners to collectively bargain. That might be why the decision was made public late Friday when it was bound to attract minimal media coverage. Conversely, Democrats in Congress are the biggest winners.

The two biggest federal employee unions behind the campaign to permit collective bargaining at the TSA — the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees — gave exclusively to Democratic incumbents and candidates during the past decade and will now compete to collect more than $27 million per year in union dues from the TSA’s 45,000 workers after the March 9 representation election.

The policy President Barack Obama’s TSA chief is turning upside down was put into effect in the aftermath of 9/11 by James Loy, President George W. Bush’s undersecretary of transportation for security. Loy issued a memorandum stating that individuals carrying out TSA screening in light of their critical national security responsibilities shall not, as a term or condition of their employment, be entitled to engage in collective bargaining or be represented for the purpose of engaging in such bargaining by any representative or organization.

Now Pistole claims TSA employees will be prohibited from bargaining on any topics that might affect security.

That is a remarkable claim considering the meaning of the “S” in TSA. Federal employee unions are barred by law from bargaining over pay, pensions or any other form of compensation, so the labor negotiators will necessarily focus on maximizing leverage over workplace conditions and procedures, including performance management and shift bid rules.

As a result, Pistole is adding a dangerous new level of politicized bureaucracy to airport security. Nobody should be surprised, then, that TSA managers who might oppose unionization are being silenced, as seen in Treasury union President Colleen Kelley’s praise of the TSA for providing information to managers to ensure their neutrality. No such neutrality requirement is being enforced on advocates for unionization.

Also last week, Pistole rejected expansion of a pilot program that lets 16 of the nation’s 457 commercial airports opt out of TSA screening.

The message is clear: The Obama administration wants government employee unions to have the exclusive right to grope commercial airline passengers. Fortunately, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has introduced an amendment to a Federal Aviation Administration bill that prohibits TSA screeners from collectively bargaining. The bill, set for a vote this week, will be a test of whether Democrats are more concerned with union paybacks or passenger safety.

editorialsExaminer editorialNational securityOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott leaves the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Brannan Street and Jack London Alley in the South Park area on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police

Officer says he ‘did not intend for his firearm to go off’

Despite the pandemic, San Francisco has ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Better than expected tax revenues leave city with $157.3M surplus for this year

As the fiscal year nears an end and Mayor London Breed prepares… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Most Read