- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2011


It’s hard to imagine flying could become any more inconvenient. Last week, however, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) made clear it was committed to making its employees even less accountable for their treatment of passengers. On Friday, TSA Administrator John S. Pistole granted the agency’s 63,000 blue latex-gloved employees the right to insulate themselves with protection from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).

Democrats successfully pushed to federalize airport screening in 2001, always with the goal in mind of augmenting the union rolls with thousands of dues-paying members. These powerful organizations just happen to be key players in getting out the vote for Democrats. AFGE and NTEU gave a combined $1.4 million in donations last cycle, 98.3 percent of which landed in the campaign coffers of congressional Democrats.

The unionization order followed Mr. Pistole’s Jan. 28 decision to block airports from taking further advantage of a program that allowed airports to opt to use private screening contractors for security matters. Already, 16 airports, including those in San Francisco and Kansas City, decided their customers deserved better treatment. Obama administration officials saw the opt-out program as a direct threat to their union-boosting plans.

Those plans would do nothing to make airports safer. To the contrary, with collective bargaining power over workplace issues such as work shifts and vacation time, unionized TSA screeners will be even less responsive to public complaints. Any changes that need to be made to address new security threats would need to be negotiated with the union. If an individual worker stays home sick, the TSA might be forced to ask permission from a union representative to ask somebody else on short notice to fill in.

Katie Gage, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, said taxpayers also will get short shrift. Unlike in the private sector, government unions have no effective counterbalance. There’s no “management” worried about maintaining efficiency in order to make profits (or avoid losses). The ability of the agency to fulfill its mission also would be diminished. “It is as absurd for these people to form a union as it would be for the Coast Guard to have a union,” Ms. Gage told The Washington Times.

Instead of watching for terrorists, the new TSA will be watching the clock, determined to get home the instant a shift ends. With powerful union lawyers on call to protect from any adverse personal actions, no matter the cause, agents have nothing to fear from mistreating the flying public. This is another example of the administration putting political needs over America’s security.

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