Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee and member of the Senate Commerce Committee, criticized the Obama Administration's announcement that they will impose collective bargaining on Transportation Security Agency (TSA) airport screeners. The move will effectively lead to the forced unionization of the nearly 50,000 airport screeners and give union officials access to sensitive national security information.
"This move will benefit union bosses and Democratic Party coffers, but it comes at the expense of the safety and security of the American people," said Senator DeMint. "Collective bargaining will effectively give union bosses veto power over airport security procedures. This decision will also give unions access to critical national security information, increasing the likelihood of intelligence leaks."
"The determination issued today specifically gives the union the right to negotiate over how shifts are assigned, the attendance management system at the Agency, who gets selected for special sensitive assignments, and who gets to work at what airport. If who shows up for work, when they show up, and what assignments they get is not a security issue, then nothing is a security issue. This decision is going to allow a labor union to decide how the TSA manages the people tasked with keeping us safe."
"TSA has consistently opposed collective bargaining since 9-11 because it poses serious security risks. When I asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a hearing to explain how collective bargaining would improve safety for American travelers, she couldn't cite a single example. The Obama Administration has effectively made the careers and livelihood of every screener dependent on their joining the union. Now the same union bureaucracy that made service at post offices and the DMV the fodder for comedians could soon be a way of life at America's airports."
"This announcement is a political kickback that could hand over $11 million in new member dues each year to the Democrat's greatest ally, the labor unions. At a time when we're battling to save our states and nation from bankruptcy, government worker unions are one of the greatest obstacles to reducing spending and avoiding bankruptcy. Instead shoring up workers' pension plans, union bosses have diverted millions to political campaigns. This is a political decision, not a security decision," said Senator DeMint.
Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) has offered an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration bill currently pending on the Senate floor that would reverse this collective bargaining decision.
"The Senate has the ability to reverse this political decision and put security first. Collective bargaining could prevent necessary minute-by-minute security decisions that need to be made during a terrorist threat, forcing TSA to ask permission from union bosses before changes are made. This move will make it even more difficult to fire or discipline screeners who fail to do their job. Collective bargaining could also increase wait times for travelers," said Senator DeMint.
Today's decision by TSA will mean that at some point in the future there will be one collective bargaining unit for all screeners at TSA, either the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) or the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). TSA screeners will be obligated to join the union in order to have any influence on how the union negotiates. With nearly 50,000 airport screeners nationwide, this move could create one of the largest federal sector unions in the government.
The impact on aviation security resulting from a fully-unionized screener workforce is tremendous:
* Collective bargaining would harm TSA's flexibility to move people and equipment to different airports or change security protocols based on terrorists threats.
* Collective bargaining would force TSA managers to share sensitive intelligence information with union negotiators when new workplace procedures are required, thus increasing the possibility of damaging leaks about those procedures. In fact there, is even a provision in the Administrator's Determination granting the union access to Sensitive Security Information (SSI).
* TSA managers would no longer be able to reward high-performing screeners or fire those unable or unwilling to perform their duties in an efficient manner. Being able to do so is critical to the TSA's ability to defend American airline travelers against future terrorist attacks.
* Hundreds of TSA screeners could be diverted from the jobs they were hired to do in order to set up the negotiating infrastructure required by collective bargaining.