NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We learned this week that the Transportation Security Administration (also known as the TSA, or "Thousands Standing Around") has been given approval by the Federal Labor Relations Authority to unionize.If this doesn't make you shudder, it should. If you think the snowplow drivers in New York caused havoc, wait until the TSA doesn't like having to change their "sanitary" gloves more than once a day. Let's start with the fact that in the dark days following the attacks of 9/11, the knee jerk reaction of the government was to do "something," and one of those "somethings" involved creating an entirely new federal bureaucracy called the Homeland Security Department. I shuddered at the time simply from the name of this new soon-to-be behemoth. And then came the TSA. Since airport screeners at that time failed to "capture" any of the 9/11 attackers, the only logical solution at the time was to make these people federal employees under the guise that they would be professional, highly trained, and, oh, not unionized. The TSA was created in 2001 as a non-union federal agency and for good reason. Critical positions that secure and defend our nation cannot be subject to the whims of collective bargaining. Picture the 101st Airborne refusing to go on deployment to Afghanistan until "safe working conditions" have been established...by the U.S. Marine Corps of course. Imagine the crew of the USS Enterprise deciding to strike a week before deployment because their shop steward (formerly known as a "Commanding Officer") was removed for making some funny videos. Or the Coast Guard not responding to the havoc in New Orleans because their Collective Bargaining Agreement didn't cover getting shot at by the people they were trying to rescue. Critical positions involving national security cannot and should not be unionized. In 2003, the Undersecretary of Transportation wrote that TSA officers, "in light of their critical national security responsibilities, shall not, as a term or condition of their employment, be entitled to engage in collective bargaining or be represented for the purpose of engaging in such bargaining by any representative or organization." I'd like to know who changed this rule and why. Strike that -- (pun intended) -- I can figure out the why, but would like to know the who.
In case you're keeping score, potential attackers caught since 9/11 by TSA -- 0. But the TSA did catch someone recently apparently doing something wrong -- a commercial pilot pointing out the blatant holes in the current security system. While pilots (who need nothing but their two hands to destroy an aircraft) get the full security treatment, many ground personnel simply scan a card and walk through a back door. In case you don't know, many commercial airline pilots are former military aviators with high level security clearances, and many currently fly in the reserves or National Guard. I don't think the same can be said for the majority of the baggage handlers, fuelers, and cleaners. If this makes your heard hurt, it should. Here's another piece of trivia to help your pain. All commercial aircraft have a "crash ax" in the cockpit, a mean looking dual-headed ax like you'd find on a fire truck. If an airliner were to crash or have a rough landing, the cockpit door would most likely be damaged and unable to be opened. There are alternate ways to escape the cockpit, like out one of the tiny cockpit windows (or large window depending on the pilot's current workout regime), but busting down the cockpit door and helping passengers is the number one priority. Hence the ax. So pilots can't carry an ax through security, but we get one in the cockpit. Go figure. I'm not advocating a "National Pilot Bring Your Ax to Work" day, but you get the point. If you really want to be terrified but fully informed as to why subjecting pilots to full blown security doesn't make the system safer, read about what happened to
Egypt Air Flight 990 . While this disturbing incident was somewhat underreported in the media at the time, it proves the point that groping a senior 777 Captain may be good theater but is a complete waste of time. Firing Line: The pilot that filmed many TSA security inconsistencies received a visit from Federal Air Marshalls and local deputies who confiscated his FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer) credentials and his weapon. Step 1 in Securing the Homeland complete. Step 2 is, of course, unionizing the TSA.