...well, not if Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has anything to say about it. Which, of course, he does.
Mica's office sends out this statement today, "regarding an expected announcement from the Administration and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on collective bargaining for TSA airport security screeners."
It follows a move last week by the TSA head, John Pistole, to halt any further expansion of a program, popular with anti-union politicians, that allowed airports to not use TSA screeners and instead hire private security-firm screeners who work under TSA rules. Only about 16 airports have opted for that program, which was put in place by anti-union politicians at the start of the TSA in 2003. Critics of the program say that it allows airports and local airport authorities to reward their own cronies in the rent-a-cop security industry with lucrative contracts -- a throwback to the way airport security worked before the TSA was started.
Mica says: "This turnover of airport screening to the Administration’s union cronies comes on the heels of last week’s decision to kill the successful TSA contract screening program, all bad news for the traveler, the taxpayer and aviation security. With the airport screening force mushrooming from 16,500 in 2001 to now nearly 63,000, this will be President Obama’s biggest gift to organized labor."
TSA screeners currently have the right to unionize, but not the ability to collectively bargain. Mica says, "Conceding collective-bargaining rights and the ability to negotiate over workplace issues could further jeopardize the nation’s transportation and passenger security system," Mica asserts, without addressing how that might be.
Mica invokes a statement made in 2003 by the former Coast Guard admiral James Loy, whose tenure as head of the TSA is widely regarded as having been feckless. "In 2003, TSA Administrator Admiral James Loy appropriately stated, 'Mandatory collective bargaining is not compatible with the flexibility required to wage the war against terrorism. Fighting terrorism demands a flexible workforce that can rapidly respond to threats. That can mean changes in work assignments and other conditions of employment that are not compatible with the duty to bargain with labor unions.'"
[Loy is currently on the board of a company, L-1 Identity Solutions, that sells biometric and other technology-based security-identification systems to airports and other enterprises.]
Mica: "Last week, TSA also announced it would halt expansion of the Screening Partnership Program (SPP). This screening program, established by Congress in the original TSA law, allows airports to opt to use certified private security screeners under TSA supervision and oversight. In previous reviews, this private-federal security model has performed as well as or better than the all-federal model. Chairman Mica has launched an investigation and review of this TSA policy decision to contradict the spirit and intent of the law."