Saturday, August 4, 2012 Will TSA's New Union Supercharge Push for Private Airport Screeners? By Omri Jaunted.com We've talked about this before, but TSA officials routinely complain that they just can't catch a PR break. This week TSA agents identified and stopped an actual real-life kidnapping in Miami, where the kidnappers were trying to smuggle the victim through the airport like something out of a movie, in addition to intercepting the usual bevy of hidden weapons. But when Congress held a hearing this week about the airport security agency, the discussion focused on how agents keep committing crimes, how airports keep privatizing their screeners, and how the new TSA union is going to be a disaster. Of course in fairness to Congress - and there's a phrase we don't usually bust out - all of those things are totally true. We've been worried and skeptical about the TSA union proposal since it became a thing two years ago. Whatever else they do, unions shield under-performing employees, which is a problem when "performance" equals "keeping terrorists off airplanes." The political appointees pushing the proposal insisted that union representatives wouldn't be allowed to bargain over performance, a talking point we called "insultingly stupid" on account of how it's insultingly stupid. Of course a union for security employees is going to bargain over security. What else are they going to talk about? Even before a contract was formally signed-which is what just happened, which is why the topic is in the news-union officials had already started bargaining over performance and protecting deadbeat screeners in from Hawaii all the way to Florida. Now consider that over the weekend Sacramento airport got tentative permission to hire private screeners for checkpoints, following the lead of many other airports. We've long held that hiring private screeners doesn't really change anything because those screeners have to use the same techniques as TSA agents. But that might not be true any more in a world of TSA unions. Two or three incidents of the union shielding misbehaving employees-as opposed to what would happen in the private sector, where companies get to fire bad apples-and it will be remarkable how fast pressure builds for widespread privatization. Related: AVSEC 'Light' at Oakland Int'l Airport? http://www.californiaaviation.org/wordpress/?p=100
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