TSA Workers Gain Right to Join Most Pointless Union Ever
TSA screeners will now have the right to join a union. Or at least a union that can't actually negotiate much of anything.
There’s a rare bit of good news for TSA’s army of security screeners, who are best-known for being the first federal workers to successfully steal the mantle of “America’s most-disliked government employees” away from IRS auditors: they get to join a union!
The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Friday gave the nation’s 40,000-plus airport screeners the opportunity to engage in limited collective bargaining, pressing ahead on a hot-button issue that has separated Republicans and Democrats since the creation of the TSA after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Congress prohibited airport screeners from collective bargaining when it created the TSA in 2003, arguing that managers needed the agency to be nimble in responding to the changing terrorists threats. But it gave the TSA administrator the authority to allow collective bargaining if he determined it would not hurt national security.
On Friday, TSA Administrator John Pistole announced he would allow airport screeners to select a union for collective bargaining, or to forgo bargaining. In a statement, Pistole said sitting down at a bargaining table with screeners would not jeopardize the nation.
Unions, of course, are known in our history textbooks as the pioneers of promoting workers’ rights in America by negotiating things like pay, working conditions, and the like with thuggish, greedy employers. So, of course, TSA’s union won’t actually be allowed to do any of these things:
[T]he paper outlining his decision precludes negotiations on security policies, pay, pensions and compensation, proficiency testing, job qualifications and discipline standards. It also will prohibit screeners from striking or engaging in work slowdowns.
So, apparently TSA screeners will be able to sign away a portion of their paychecks to a union to… send it to Democratic candidates for federal office or something, because that would seem to be about the only thing the union would have the power to do in the service of its members. I suppose if you were trying to establish a system to help finance Democratic campaigns for Congress and the White House, this union might be a good idea, but I’m at a loss as to how it will do anything at all for rank-and-file TSA employees, or the traveling public for that matter.
But since TSA screening is here to stay—the desires of the traveling public, airlines, and airports be damned—at least there’ll be plenty of employees’ dues to collect for the lucky winners of the organizing drive.