Focus on airport security, not politics

by Jim DeMint
The Greenville News
January 3, 2010

This past Christmas, more than eight years after 9-11, Americans were faced with a sobering reminder that the threat of Islamic terrorists is still very real. The attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to kill the passengers of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as they neared Detroit was thankfully unsuccessful, but it reminds us that we cannot afford to undermine the safety of Americans as they travel by air.

Sadly, the Obama administration and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill haven’t learned the lesson of the Christmas bomber and are still intent on implementing policies that will significantly weaken airport security.

Since the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created after the 9-11 attacks to screen luggage and passengers at airports nationwide, TSA administrators have consistently opposed collective bargaining for its employees, citing serious security concerns. Yet, even though the 9-11 Commission never recommended it, President Obama and Democrats in Congress appear intent on forcing all 50,000 airport screeners nationwide to join a union through collective bargaining.

Today, screeners are permitted to choose to join a union, but collective bargaining would mean that union bosses would represent every TSA screener and security officials would be forced to negotiate with union bosses before making critical and timely security decisions. Basically, the same union bureaucracy that has crippled the American auto industry and made service at Post Offices and the DMV the punch line to jokes could soon be a way of life at America’s airports.

The impact on aviation security resulting from a fully-unionized screener workforce is tremendous.

Consider how the TSA system works now. When the plot by terrorists from the UK was uncovered in 2006, new rules on carrying liquids onboard went into effect within 12 hours. If TSA had been unionized then, officials would have had to first ask permission of union bosses. And if the unions decided the changes were too burdensome on their employees, weeks or months of negotiations could have ensued, before any changes were made. Even in their recent response to the attempt by Abdulmutallab, TSA officials reassigned staff and changed screening procedures within hours, a quick move that would be nearly impossible under collective bargaining with union bosses.

Senator DeMint’s op-ed continues at GreenvilleOnline.

Comments are closed.