"Ready for Unionized Airport Security?"
Kim Strassel, WSJ:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made some progress this week in rescuing his state from the public-sector unions holding it hostage. Ever wonder how Wisconsin got into trouble in the first place? Washington is providing an illuminating case study.
Even as state battles rage, the Obama administration has been facilitating the largest federal union organizing effort in history. Tens of thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are now casting votes to choose a union to collectively bargain for cushier personnel practices on their behalf.
Liberals are calling it a “historic” vote. It is. Henceforth, airport security will play second fiddle to screener “rights.”
Here’s the fundamental problem with public-employee unions: They exist to compete with, and undermine, public priorities. The priority of Wisconsin citizens is a state that can provide basic services, encourage private-sector jobs, and pay its bills. Wisconsin public-employee unions, by contrast, were formed to, and exist to, erect a system that showers members with plump pay and benefits, crowding out state services and private jobs. The same disconnect is on display with the TSA.
On Sept. 11, 2001, more than 3,000 Americans died after terrorists turned airplanes into missiles. It was a colossal security failure. Congress responded by creating the TSA. The merits of federalizing airport screening were always questionable, though at least the public priority was clear.
Back then, a bipartisan majority of Congress agreed that a crack airport security service was incompatible with rigid unionization rules. Yet by 2008, Democratic presidential candidates were betting that security worries had receded enough that they could again pander for union votes. Candidate Barack Obama sent a letter to American Federation of Government Employees boss John Gage, vowing that his “priority” was giving Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) “collective bargaining rights and workplace protections.”
[...] as South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint says, President Obama is finally making good on a “political kickback to the union bosses who poured money into his campaign in 2010 and who he desperately needs to win re-election in 2012.” Whatever union is now chosen to bargain for TSA workers—either Mr. Gage’s American Federation of Government Employees, or the National Treasury Employees Union—will have the power to begin transforming the agency into one that puts union priorities first, security second.
The administration is already doing the bidding of the eventual TSA union by making it harder for airports to escape the coming system. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica is investigating the agency’s recent decision to raise the bar in allowing airports to opt for private screeners, and its recent denial of that request by five airports.
The TSA is allowing Americans to witness the downward spiral of the collective-bargaining system in action. Government sets out to accomplish specific public priorities. Unions, via dues, elect politicians who will agree to collective bargaining, and to shift those priorities to those of the union. The fights in Wisconsin and elsewhere are about the public trying to reassert its will.
So. Another profession that will quickly become less about the job and more about the benefits — that is, less about security and more about protecting even the worst screeners from being “punished” or removed for being incompetent.
Is screening important? Of course. All the more reason that the industry should remain competitive and not turned over to public sector union bosses who exist to wring the most out of the government while demanding the least out of its membership, save for the insistence that they pay their dues, fall in line, and stand as one against “management” — who just happens to be the American taxpayer.
Just another instance of tone-deafness on the part of the ruling elite. Or perhaps it’s something else. Namely, they just don’t care what you think.
update: Told you they didn’t care what you think.
On the plus side, though, another group of reliably Democrat voters that we get to pay for!
(thanks to Pablo)