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December 29th, 2009 5:36 pm
TSA to Unionize?

The fracas surrounding Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) hold on Erroll Southers’ nomination to be the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) next chief shows the endurance of two liberal pastimes.  First, the refusal of any of DeMint’s critics to directly address his concerns that Southers will clear the path for TSA workers to unionize.  The second is the enshrinement of unelected bureaucrats as the sine qua non of a workable federal government.

Right now, the TSA’s supposed top priority is to protect Americans traveling through the nation’s airports and on its airways.  If TSA’s workers are allowed to unionize its primary focus, like all other public employee unions, will become job protection and expanding compensation.  To Senator DeMint that means less flexibility in personnel decisions and higher taxes.  Apparently, Southers hasn’t been candid about whether he supports unionization.  Disregarding the senator’s qualms, pilots unions and trade associations are calling for DeMint to relent.  For those familiar with him, that isn’t likely.

Perhaps what’s more amazing (or disgusting, depending on your current level of holiday cheer) is the implied premise of Southers’ supporters that TSA is “rudderless” without a permanent, Senate-approved leader.  Granted, Congress is on an extended vacation and the president is golfing in Hawaii, but no one can seriously argue that TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA, or the myriad of other federal departments, agencies, or bureaus touching on domestic safety are insufficiently empowered to decide who gets on an American airplane.  If anything, the admission that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s name was on a terror watch list and had been reported to the American government by his own father indicate that “what we’ve got here is…failure to communicate” among various federal entities.

If it takes a new law to make that possible, so be it.  But fast-tracking a stealth unionization administrator can wait until he and his supporters come up with a better reason than a civil servant’s indispensability.

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