As the New York Times says, this is a debate that has been brewing for potentially a decade: the “right” for Transportation Security Administration workers to unionize. The American Federation of Government Employees followed up with a press release praising the decision:
AFGE National President John Gage today released the following statement:
“Today marks the recognition of a fundamental human right for 40,000 patriotic federal employees who have been disenfranchised since the inception of the agency.
Calling the right to collective bargaining a “fundamental human right” is a recent development. This would imply that those who operate businesses do not have the “fundamental human right” of being able to choose which workers they employ, but who’s counting.
The collective bargaining is limited, in that they aren’t allowed to strike or negotiate for pay. Not being allowed to strike is standard in many collective bargaining agreements for certain federal employees. I’m surprised by the lack of ability to negotiate for higher salaries, typically that is one of the defining functions of a union.
The TSA has already shown a remarkable level of incompetence in stopping bombs from getting through (though good luck if you have a nail clipper, those things are dangerous and they’ll get you every time). It seems that the historical argument of not letting them unionize due to concerns with competence, flexibility, etc. should still be correct. Furthermore, if anything, this is an argument that anyone at the TSA should be more concerned with making the appropriate changes such that BOMBS don’t get through security check points before they move onto other problems.
And finally, as Hans Bader notes: the TSA has just stopped its program which allowed “private” screening companies to take over for the TSA in certain airports. Despite being subject to TSA’s absurd requirements (such as patting down seniors), which really throws out the argument that they’re private, these companies had received much higher performance ratings by its customers. Score one for government bureaucrats.