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  • TSA Collective Bargaining Could Endanger Americans

    Over Thanksgiving weekend of 2006, airport screeners in Toronto began meticulously searching every carry-on bag by hand. The delays caused security lines to pile up. Passengers began missing their flights en masse. To break the bottleneck, supervisors allowed 250,000 passengers to board their flights with “minimal or no screening.” One Canadian security expert dryly observed, “If terrorists had known that in those three days that their baggage wasn’t going to be searched, that would have been bad.”

    What motivated the screeners to inspect every bag by hand?

    Their union was upset with contract negotiations and wanted to pressure management. The delays and missed flights were intentional. The Canadian screeners’ union could and did put its interests over public safety.

    The United States has started heading in this direction. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created after 9/11 to prevent terrorists from boarding planes. Today the Administration announced it had signed the first collective bargaining agreement with TSA employees. This was a bad idea for many reasons.

    First, TSA employees perform a vital function. What happens if they strike? The Obama Administration has prohibited screener strikes, but government unions often strike illegally. Consider the illegal Detroit teachers or New York City transit strikes. Even if they do not formally strike, unions can engage in work slowdowns, as in Toronto. A labor dispute at a national security agency like the TSA could cost lives.

    Second, though collective bargaining at the TSA is currently limited, it could be expanded in the future to the detriment of passenger safety. Government rarely fails to expand its influence and bureaucracy when given the opportunity. Currently the TSA has the flexibility to assign agents where they are most needed. If future negotiations extend to staffing and scheduling decisions—as they do at Customs and Border Protection—that could change, making it hard for the TSA to rapidly adapt to new threats.

    Third, collective bargaining contracts usually sharply limit performance pay. Right now, the TSA provides merit pay to its top performers. Historically, unions have opposed merit pay, even when their members could dramatically benefit. Limiting performance bonuses would make it much harder to reward and motivate diligent employees.

    The law does not require the Administration to collectively bargain with security screeners. The President voluntarily decided to do so. The American people would be safer if the President had heeded President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s views on this matter: “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service.… Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount.”

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to TSA Collective Bargaining Could Endanger Americans

    1. Bea says:

      HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

      "First, TSA employees perform a vital function." You had me laughing hysterically from that point on! Yep, groping granny and swiping passengers' iPads — vital functions both!

      You people ever worry about your morals — or lack thereof? This agency's thugs have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands while preying on cancer patients and other weak, vulnerable people. Yet the only thing upsetting you is their unionization (not that unions aren't a vile as the TSA…).

      ABOLISH THE TSA

      • TSAresigned says:

        and when private screeners "groped your granny" what did you say then? this exists with or without the TSA.

    2. Pete Houston says:

      TSA does not perform a vital function. It is a another union that votes for more taxpayer money and provides very little in the way of safety or security for the general public. There will be some minority of people that take the job seriously, but the majority are just on welfare with a uniform and work show up requirement.

    3. Bill Fisher says:

      Great, now we have a unionized criminal workforce stalking airports. Expect TSA complaints to skyrocket and less disciplinary action to rein it in.

      In the past two months 35 TSA workers fired or arrested and 66 more disciplined for misconduct. Two more were arrested in the past week for theft from passengers and assault with a handgun. A known pedophile, Thomas Harkins, was exposed two months ago but remains employed as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia and allowed to grope children at the checkpoint.

      There were a total of 94 TSA workers arrested in the last 20 months including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, ten for smuggling contraband through security and one for murder. The most recent were a drunken lead TSO, Milagros Casanas, arrested for beating a woman and trying to steal her cell phone in Key West this week and Robert Don Jensen was charged last week with felony terrorizing, assault, and ingestion of a controlled substance. Another TSA screener at Memphis airport was arrested today for carrying a gun through the checkpoint.

      This is what you get from our government these days, less rights for citizens and more perks for Federal employees.

    4. Bobbie says:

      Collective bargaining in areas of public safety isn't safe at all. The unions are protecting the workers where the safety of people is compromise and unsettling and another area to be "uncertain!" Dogs work better, more efficient, aren't greedy and love doing their job with minimal if any error! You won't find a dog ripping off baggage! Replace the TSA with DOGS!! Properly trained dogs are obedient, logical and steps up from what America deals with in her unruly government people!

      • tsaresinged says:

        Like the Fire Dept or the police Dept. I think you should work up the courage to tell one of those guys that in person.

    5. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      What are they going to collectively bargain about? How much they can get paid to feel us up?

      • Bobbie says:

        Really! They should be paying us!!!!!!

      • tsaresigned says:

        If you could read the article they bargained for third party arbitration on disciplinary issues. Looks like life will change forever as we know it.

    6. Lone Gunman says:

      The ONLY vital function that TSA employees perform is to give the ILLUSION of security by making the airline experience as inconvenient as possible. Some years ago, the head of EL-AL's security commented that all TSA does is anger and intimidate people, it does NOTHING to protect them. The entire thing should be disbanded, but since that is not going to happen, then let them have their union. Why not? The added inconvenience and cost that will come with it will do nothing but assure the compliant sheeple of this nation that they are even more secure. Nevermind the fact that it will also give terrorists and criminals more than enough wiggle room to commit more atrocities.

      • tsa resigned says:

        OK Genius, I agree on the EL AL bit but when you have an agency making workers man equipment alone when you need a second or third person present and hold that man accountable for any errors you have a problem. As I recall shortly before I resigned, the shortage of workers was due to the amount of poeple quitting because it wasn't a nice place to work. I think the worst of it was being an educated person doing that job -answering to half-wits, and when I wanted to be done with it all my peers and their so called friends inundated me with their stupid opinions that are lacking both intelligence and insight.

    7. gayle says:

      "The law does not require the Administration to collectively bargain with security screeners. The President voluntarily decided to do so. " Another brilliant decision by BHO. Flying is a tedious activity now. Imagine another fly in the ointment….arriving to the airport to find screeners engaging in a sick out or other activity(because of course the won't strike) What then? Did anyone think this through?

    8. Petra Huf says:

      Abolish the TSZ and arm ever passenge over the age of 18 with a single shot .22 pistol.

      I refuse to fly because I don't like being groped. I'm on more intimate terms with strangers of the TSA than I am with my doctors.

      Abolish the TSA and let us take our chances. The shoe bomber and the underwear bomber BOTH got past TSA and air marshalls! They were stopped by private citizens.

      If our government is too stupid to use the Israeli method of psychological profiling, they shouldn't do anything else either. It's been 12 years now and our government still insists on treating every mass-transit passenger as a criminal because they are afraid of insulting somebody who would do us harm.

      How about a little fear of insulting the masses of innocent people who have no intention of doing anybody any harm!

      • Mike Benedict says:

        "The shoe bomber and the underwear bomber BOTH got past TSA and air marshalls! They were stopped by private citizens."
        Never let facts get in the way of your ignorance… The Shoe Bomber boarded the flight in Paris, France and the underwear bomber boarded the flight in Amsterdam, Holland… The TSA only screens passengers boarding in the United States… poor Petra Huff… just plain dumb…

    9. Patriot53 says:

      And now everybody knows the REAL reason behind the formation of both the TSA and the unionization. I think it's time to shut the TSA down and get into law that the government CANNOT unionize!

    10. Patriot says:

      What a dopey article. Any employee who is treated poorly without an avenue of redress is going to be a surly employee. TSA agents now have effective 11-hour workdays. Collective bargaining simply means that employees who need an issue addressed can have their representative discuss it with management and fix things. Sounds all right to me.

      • Bobbie says:

        why can't the employees take it one on one like private businesses whose employees are better than to need unions representatives do it for them? Employees get a lot further without union interests where unions have a position to be just as corrupting as anyone and holding employees back from their own potential otherwise uninfluenced by outside sources! Doesn't sound alright to me to keep people from handling their own what unions won't let them by unions' own regulations.

    11. Guest says:

      Quite obvious no one reads Title 5, Security is not negotiable, work rules are, strikes are not permitted.

      Walk a day in the shoes of a TSO and then tell me why collective bargaining is NOT necessary in TSA. If you have a problem with the processes call your representatives and/or TSA managment.

      As a Federal manager I find union contracts simplify work rules by creating a single source document rather than trying to figure out which Order or Directive or Policy Bulletin etc to implement. Its all in the negotiations, done poorly will get a poor contract, done well and you get a good workable contract.

      • guest, too says:

        Thank you for bringing some sense into this discussion. Nothing makes less sense than talking about how something works in another country (e.g., screening in Canada) and then try to say that the same thing will happen here, without looking at the substantive differences.

        I find it fascinating that more people are upset over TSA "negotiating a contract" when so few have any idea what the issues of interest are that they will negotiate over. But why let that stop the fear-mongering?

        The one (and ONLY) time Federal employees have striked was the Air Traffic Controllers Union – and Reagan fired all of them!

        Employees need a process to address and resolve legitimate workplace issues – the alternative is constant, heavy turnover of staff, a flat learning curve (where the same mistakes are made over and over by new staff) and a high dissatisfaction level among customers. Union contracts provide that framework.

        [PS: like you, Im in "management" and am not covered by or represented by a Union]

    12. Airborne Patriot says:

      Aside from bashing the TSA, this article was about unionization of TSA people. The fact that the POTUS forced the Administrator to allow for collective bargaining as a condition of his getting another position in the future is what people should be looking at. Trace it all back to the Obama Administration and you will find these things to be true. Who cares about American safety as long as there is a way for the democrats to maneuver future power for the future. It is all a game to the folks inside the belt-way an no one can prove me wrong.

    13. Moose says:

      It would be great if the article writers did proper research and provided accurate information. The commenters for the most part are idiots who also don't know what they are talking about!

    14. Larry K White says:

      Eloquent Moose, eloquent.

      Abolish the TSA…
      Every airline but AA and SWA have been sent Bankruptcy by bad Management / Union negotiations.
      CEO's and Boards kicked the problem down the road they learned that from our Governments.

      It's called a "Balance Sheet" Assets minus Liabilities equals…BANKRUPTCY.
      Some of my best friends are multimillionaire airline pilots,retired… and that's not funny.

      The logic of Government Employees bargaining with "their employer" is absurd! Bureaucrats are not their employers; We The People, TAXPAYERS ARE!

    15. tsa resigned says:

      I think the author(s) of this article failed to research the actual power this particular union has. There was a clause from TSA's inception barring workers from Whistle-blower protection, collective bargaining , striking, or workplace slowdowns, or mass call-offs.

      So, I think it's understood that if they reached an agreement while using collective bargaining, that third parties can arbitrate some kids of disciplinary actions taken -that it DOES NOT translate into stikes and airport shutdowns or any related activity.

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