Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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Feeling TSA workers' pain

The headline on the press release screams in bold letters: “Big Labor Captures Airport Screeners.”

The release from Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, refers of course to the announcement June 23 that the American Federation of Government Employees won its contest with the National Treasury Employees Union to represent more than 40,000 Transportation Security Administration airport screeners. About 17,000 TSA employees voted for one union or the other.

“This would be the largest group ever taken over by the largest government employee union,” Mica says in the release.

OK. Whatever.

“I share the frustrations of TSA workers,” Mica says. “While collective bargaining for airport screeners may sound like a solution to a dysfunctional workplace, only a dramatic overhaul of TSA will provide a proper structure for improved employment conditions, employee respect, and the best possible security operations.”

What it does not say, of course, is that Mica believes that “improved employment conditions” and “worker respect” would best be attained by getting rid of federal screeners altogether and turning the whole thing over to private contractors. He laid out that position pretty clearly earlier this month when his committee released a 137-page report supporting the use of private screeners and accusing TSA of thwarting efforts to expand their use.

And now he’s got a union to contend with as well.

Mica also sees the security lapse at Honolulu International Airport at the end of last year as another potential springboard for his efforts. Although TSA has investigated the incident and proposed the firing of dozens of TSA employees at the airport, Mica earlier this week called on the Homeland Security Department’s Office of Inspector General to look into the episode as well. Coincidentally, Mica’s announcement of the OIG request also made reference to “TSA’s cooking the books to make the all-federal screening model appear to be less costly than contract screener operations.”

Anyway, AFGE had better put away the champagne. It’s got its work cut out for it.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Jun 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM


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