TSA Gearing Up for Trade Union Election

As if the flap over full body scans–physical and otherwise–wasn’t enough, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is about to have elections for union representation:

The Federal Labor Relations Authority on Friday accepted a petition from the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union to hold an election to determine which group will represent TSA workers. Petitions filed by AFGE and NTEU earlier this year were denied by an FLRA regional official, but Friday’s decision reverses that ruling. Both unions have been vying for exclusive representation of 40,000 TSA employees. FLRA will set the timeline for the election, count the votes and certify the results.

The next step is to grant whatever union wins this election–assuming that one will, which is almost a given–collective bargaining rights.  As the article goes on to note:

Created in 2001, TSA was excluded from federal regulations granting workers collective bargaining rights. TSA administrators have the authority to grant those rights but have chosen not to act on the issue.

My guess is that the Obama Administration (“Big Sis”) will grant these rights.

Government unions are always a conundrum.  One the one hand, government employees are more subject to be victims of favouritism and politics than private sector ones (companies which do this on a regular basis will eventually damage their productivity and go out of business). This both encourages and justifies the formation of trade unions in the government (I wouldn’t take the union pap about “…the morale of the TSO workforce is terrible as a result of favoritism, a lack of fair and respectful treatment from many managers, poor and unhealthy conditions in some airports, poor training and testing protocols, and a poor pay system” as seriously as they would like us to).  On the other hand, as with any union, over time one ends up with a rigid, seniority driven workforce where innovation is discouraged, something that is fearful when it comes to transportation security.  And, of course, one must factor into consideration how dreadfully expensive unionised labour forces have become, California being the poster child for this problem.

If the Republicans want to do something significant rather than silliness like dickering over earmarks, they will put pressure on the administration to block collective bargaining rights.

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