A Unionized Airport Pat-Down

There is a bit of irony in the juxtaposition of the upcoming National Opt-Out Day this Wednesday, when air travelers are asked to say no to the electronic body scanners; and the fact that the TSA workers are all being asked to “opt-in” to a new union to represent them against their bosses, the American taxpayers.  This push for union representation is the possible undercurrent of the current security controversy.  Some TSA workers say they need more contract protection now because the public is becoming increasingly hostile

 The American Federation of Government Employees is run by John Gage.   It already represents 600,000 government workers and now it is asking the Federal Labor Relations Authority to fold in the 40,000 TSA workers at the nation's airports.  Gage says the administration is ignoring their needs and efforts to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.  President Obama promised them a union during his campaign so he could get their donations; now Gage says it's time to keep the promise.  Timing is everything.  Right now the TSA workers are under fire from the traveling public for aggressive screening that some call sexual assault.  Travelers are fighting back with their mouths and their attitudes. 

 Folding in the TSA to the union also gives the union bosses a huge financial “kitty” to work with.  The dues from these new workers would net the union $30 million more dollars a year.  It would make the union more powerful and, no doubt, some of that money would come back to candidates in 2012.  The union has even said so, threatening Democrats with withheld support unless they push for a union vote and do it soon.

 Some security experts and, even some in Washington, are now suggesting that the TSA be abolished and security functions at the nation's airports be handled by private contractors who are properly trained and screened.  This is not what the union wants.  This is not what the Administration wants.  But, if we keep hearing stories about TSA screeners with their hands down the pants of children and grandmas, the public may just opt-out of the body scanners and their support for unionizing the TSA. 

 It just occurred to me as I am writing this that we are forgetting with this is supposed to be about.  It's supposed to be about our security and keeping the terrorists from crippling our economy.  We are still debating the best way to do that.   Before approving the unionization of thousands more Federal workers and locking the taxpayers into long, expensive collective bargaining agreements, let's figure out if we really need or want the TSA. 

Categories: Becker’s Digital Notebook