Your Airport Security Line is About to Get a Lot Longer

Transportation Security Administration screeners will finish casting their votes on whether to unionize by next Tuesday. The smart money says that the majority of the 44,000 airport screeners will vote for unionization.

TSA unionization is a terrible idea for three reasons.

First, public unions are an entirely different scourge than private unions are, because they can consolidate and fund the very management that negotiates on their behalf (i.e., the Democratic Party).

Second, TSA strikes could jeopardize national security because work stoppages and slowdowns could result in inadequate security screening and a general slowdown in economic activity that is typically associated with travel delays.

Third, TSA unionization would set a dangerous precedent for other federal government agencies that are not unionized like the FBI, CIA, and the United States military.

I can see it now. “Captain, have your tank company seize and secure Hill 780.”

“Sir, we can only seize that hill between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm, because the military union’s work rules require a one hour lunch break and I cannot require them to attack anything before 8:00 am.”

And here’s the most precious quote from the article:

“What [TSA screeners are] looking for is fairness and transparency and not a workplace that is driven by favoritism or who you know,” said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Yes, unions bring transparency to organizations and do not practice petty cronyism or favoritism.

Give me a break.

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
This entry was posted in Business, Defense, Humor, Policy, Politics, Unions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Your Airport Security Line is About to Get a Lot Longer

  1. Scott Erb says:

    I still think public unions are unfairly demonized (admittedly I’m biased as I’m a member of one — though given that our university is only 40% state funded we could be called quasi-public). First, legislatures have real power. They can forbid strikes and I would hope that this would be the case with the TSA. Second, unions do tend to support Democrats, but one could say that big business funds and supports the GOP and thus assures the wealthy pay low taxes and laws benefit them. Ultimately, a pluralist system relies on interest groups. I do not think, given how low public worker salaries are compared to private sector in similar jobs, the unions have shown an ability to negotiate out of line salaries. Finally, the government certainly has the power to limit or prevent unionization of the military, CIA, etc.

    From my perspective it seems like a kind of distortion to blame the unions of relatively underpaid public workers who have been getting salaries frozen or cut, often forced to take unpaid furlough days and lose their best workers to more lucrative private sector jobs, for the budgetary problems we face. When the wealthiest have been benefiting the most in recent years and seeing taxes cut, it seems like an effort demonize a small relatively powerless group in order to avoid having attention paid on what’s really causing the problem. After all, Germany has very powerful unions (including public unions) and yet their economy is doing very well.

    • Scott,

      The problem isn’t the public union salaries, it is the lavish pensions politicians promise the unions that are bankrupting the states. Getting free healthcare and full pay during retirement is unprecedented in the private sector.

      The difference between big business and unions is that big businesses create jobs. Unions destroy them. By demanding ridiculous pension benefits, states have been forced to cut public sector jobs to meet their budgets.

      Unions are a relic of a bygone era and they need to go away, especially public unions.

      • Scott Erb says:

        Yet again — the wealthiest have benefited the most in recent years, countries like Germany have strong unions and are doing very well, and most upper level management types have no problems in retirement. The point is to make sure workers are treated with some fairness. Yes, management will always be wealthier than workers and be able to retire in style. That’s the way the world works and trying to equalize things will cause more harm than good. But can’t there be some effort to assure that workers have a decent retirement, even if they can’t travel and enjoy the benefits that the wealthy have? Shouldn’t the elderly who have worked all their lives not fear that health care costs will drive them to bankruptcy (the US is pretty much the only country where that happens, and it’s over half our bankruptcies!)

        I look at Europe where they have wealthy folk, rich industrialists and bankers…and yet they also take care of workers, provide health care and decent pensions. Moreover, especially in Scandinavia and Germany their economies are doing well. Might not it be possible that we can have decent retirement and health care for everyone even while allowing the successful job creators to be wealthy. Look at the salaries of CEOs in the US compared to Europe! Might it not be that we have gone a little overboard in allowing income and wealth differentials to get too extreme? I’m not arguing for socialism, equal outcomes or anything like that. Capitalism and markets work best. But even poor workers deserve to have adequate health care and a decent retirement.

        • “Yet again — the wealthiest have benefited the most in recent years, countries like Germany have strong unions and are doing very well, and most upper level management types have no problems in retirement.”

          The Germans are doing well now because they weren’t caught up in the housing crisis like the United States was. Additionally, the German culture is very different than American culture. There, government services actually run efficiently, unlike here in the states.

          If you just look at the data, states with high union representation are having more problems than those with low levels. See my post here for the data.

          I agree that there should be some social safety net, but it has been overdone in America. For instance, blanket social security is ridiculous. If I had my druthers, it would not go to everyone, only to the poor via a means test. There is no reason Warren Buffett and Bill Gates should get SS (and they would probably both agree). If the country took a similar approach to healthcare, it could also probably solve the issue of healthcare bankruptcies without bankrupting the country in the process.

  2. Scott Erb says:

    One reason they weren’t as caught up in the housing bubble as the US (though a lot of Germans did own mortgage backed bonds) is tougher financial regulations. Countries with too much de-regulation, like Ireland and Iceland, also got hit bad.

    I agree about inefficiencies and about social security. I still believe both parties could find compromises that shift revenue and power to the states from the federal government. That’s one issue I am with the Republicans on – more power (and revenue/control) to the states.

    But the social scientist in me would need to see a causal link between unionization and the factors being correlated. For instance, Nevada has very low GDP growth in this chart, bringing down the numbers, but if you’d looked before the housing bust Nevada would be an example of a high growth state. You suggest that high unionization causes states to vote democratic. Yet it could be that states that tend to be more democratic are more open to unionization. Which way does the causal arrow point? Given how many things factor into unemployment, GDP growth and other areas — and how the differences aren’t that dramatic (and are spiky) — I’m skeptical that unions are the causal factor. Finally, given the trend of how the US has been losing manufacturing jobs to third world countries, it could be an impact of globalization that highly unionized states are the hardest hit by the economic recession. That could be the cause for those stats, not the level of unionization itself.

    The biggest difference I note in German culture is that conservatives support things like national health care and more progressive taxation. That’s also why after taxes and transfers Germany goes from .51 on the GINI (worse than the .46 in the US) to .30 (while the US goes to .38). I’ve always found myself generally comfortable with European conservatism, I identify with people like Angela Merkel better than with Republicans or Democrats in the US! I admit I am comfortable voting for my Republican Senators Snowe and Collins (and my Democratic Represenative Mike Michaud).

    • Scott,

      Your general point that correlation does not imply causation is a fair one. But you have to admit that highly unionized states are highly correlated with worsening economic conditions and Democratic majorities, regardless of the underlying causes.

      “The biggest difference I note in German culture is that conservatives support things like national health care and more progressive taxation.”

      I think this is a fair point. Another important thing to note is that the Europeans (with the exception of the Brits) benefit tremendously from American defense dollars. The Germans do not need to invest a very high percentage of their GDP on defense, because they know that the United States will always defend them any time their country is threatened. As such, they can afford to spend money on other things like national healthcare, when we cannot.

      • Scott Erb says:

        That’s changing though. The number of American troops in Europe is down below 90,000, and the Obama administration is making it clear that the US does not consider Europe a priority. And that’s good — the Europeans can defend themselves. But most Europeans do not think that much money is needed to defend Europe — they don’t see significant military threats on the horizon. Still, American defense spending isn’t so much that this explains the difference.

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