This week the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) admitted it was having a difficult time reaching a consensus on a new collective bargaining agreement with its airport screener's union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). The end result of these disagreements, over issues such as employees "bidding" on work shifts, is that the TSA and the AFGE will likely have to go to a Federal arbitration panel for resolution. It is important to note that this is the first collective bargaining agreement for TSA's employees who only recently voted to join the AFGE in June of 2011. Already troubles have arisen.
It is even more troubling that the TSA is being forced to focus on issues such as who will work what shift when an Inspector General report released last week by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee highlighted failures in the TSA's basic mission -- security -- and as an example, documented the dereliction of 48 TSA airport screeners at Honolulu International Airport. The Inspector General's report also concluded that the incident at Honolulu International Airport was not an isolated incident and reflected shortcomings in security procedures throughout the TSA. It hardly seems appropriate to be discussing union packages or expanding the TSA's reach when the TSA is failing to accomplish its most basic task, airport security and baggage screening. I will share more from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee's continued investigation into the TSA's practices and effectiveness in the coming weeks.