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Thread: TSA and Unions

  1. #1
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    03 Aug 03

    TSA and Unions

    The TSA needs to be purged, not unionized

    TSA nominee Erroll Southers withdraws

    Updated 10:18 a.m. ET

    President Obama's nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew from consideration on Wednesday, saying his nomination was "obstructed by political ideology."
    Federal Eye - TSA nominee Erroll Southers withdraws

    Erroll Southers had faced fierce opposition from Republicans ever since news surfaced that he may have misled Congress about an incident in the late 1980s involving a background check of the boyfriend of his ex-wife.

    As The Eye first reported in November, Southers told senators that he asked a co-worker's husband who worked for the San Diego Police Department at the time to run a background check on his ex-wife's boyfriend.

    The incident did little to stop his confirmation by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But a day after the panel referred his nomination to the Senate, Southers told lawmakers that he himself had twice conducted the database searches, downloaded confidential law enforcement records and then passed the information on to the police department employee.

    "I was extremely excited about the opportunity to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and fulfill Secretary [Janet] Napolitano's objective to develop it into the best organization of its kind in the world," Southers said in a statement released by the White House on Wednesday. "However, it is apparent that this path has been obstructed by political ideology. I have decided, after deep reflection and in consultation with my family and friends to respectfully withdraw my name from consideration for confirmation as the assistant secretary for the TSA."

    "It is clear that my nomination has become a lightning rod for those who have chosen to push a political agenda at the risk of the safety and security of the American people," Southers said. "This partisan climate is unacceptable and I refuse to allow myself to remain part of their dialogue. The TSA has important work to be done and I regret I will not be part of their success."

    "The President believes that Erroll Southers would have been an excellent TSA administrator but understands his personal decision and the choice he has made," said White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro.

    "Southers was uniquely qualified for this job and it is with great sadness that the president accepted Southers' withdrawal. Fortunately the acting TSA Administrator is very able and we have a solid team of professionals at TSA doing vital national security work to keep us safe," Shapiro said.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had planned to hold an up or down vote on Southers next week. But Republican opposition continued and requests for more information from the White House went unanswered, said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

    "The Senate could have had an open and transparent debate this week to approve Mr. Southers, but apparently, answering simple, direct questions about security and integrity were too much for this nominee," DeMint said in a statement. "I hope the president will quickly put forward a new nominee that is fully vetted and that will put the safety of the American people first."

    DeMint, who led GOP opposition to Southers, initially opposed him out of fear that TSA would eventually approve collective bargaining rights for airport security officers. TSA employees can join a union, but cannot collectively bargain. DeMint and other Republicans argued that union interference would jeopardize airport security.

    Through a spokeswoman, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) expressed disappointment with Southers's decision. "The senator thought the combination of his law enforcement and aviation security skills uniquely qualified him to lead the TSA," a spokeswoman said.

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the panel's ranking Republican and the only lawmaker to ever publicly question Southers about the incident, said, "It is critically important that the White House act quickly to nominate someone with qualifications and reputation which are beyond reproach to lead this agency."

    Shapiro could not say when Obama might name a new TSA nominee or whether the White House will just nominate Acting Administrator Gale Rossides to the job full-time.

    Southers also testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, but the FBI censure issue never came up and it's unclear if Southers ever told the committee about the incident.

    "Today our national security system lost a skilled law enforcement officer with needed expertise and leadership qualities because of political games – and that is a real shame," Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) said. "I urge my colleagues to more carefully focus on America’s security not partisanship."

    Southers's withdrawal comes on an already bad day for the White House, as it attempts to salvage health-care reform efforts following Tuesday's Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race. The Obama administration has also struggled in recent months to earn Senate confirmation for several top nominees.

    Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

    More reaction to the Southers decision

    RELATED: Previous Federal Eye reporting on Erroll Southers

    By Ed O'Keefe | January 20, 2010; 8:36 AM ET
    Last edited by troung; 23 Jan 10, at 20:02.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  2. #2
    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    03 Aug 03
    Unionizing TSA Is A Security Mistake
    Unionizing TSA Is A Security Mistake | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.
    Posted January 5th, 2010 at 12:37pm in Enterprise and Free Markets, Protect America with 15 commentsPrint This Post Print This Post

    Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has placed a hold on President Obama’s nominee for Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Erroll Southers. Since the attempted underwear bombing, many pundits have attacked DeMint for this on the grounds that the agency needs permanent leadership. DeMint should ignore these criticisms: his actions have protected American travelers.

    Current law gives the TSA Administrator discretion over whether to collectively bargain with airport security screeners. The TSA has determined that collective bargaining would endanger the safety of America’s air passengers. TSA screeners may belong to a union, and the TSA withholds union dues for screeners who request it. But the union may not collectively negotiate how TSA screeners perform their jobs. However, Southers may change this policy – to the detriment of the American people.

    The TSA has avoided collective bargaining for good reason: the bureaucracy and delays of collective bargaining hurt the agency’s ability to defend Americans. The TSA needs the ability to rush screeners to high-risk locations and modify screening procedures at a moment’s notice. Following the attempted U.K. airline bombings, for example, the TSA overhauled its procedures in less than 12 hours to prevent terrorists from smuggling liquid explosives onto any U.S. flights.

    The TSA cannot spend weeks or months negotiating new procedures or personnel assignments, as collective bargaining requires. Other government unions have strongly resisted changing established procedures. The National Treasury Employees Union, for example, successfully brought the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before arbitration for breaking its contract after the CBP changed security procedures without first collectively negotiating them.

    Other countries that allow collective bargaining over security procedures have found that it harms national security. A 2006 labor dispute in Toronto allowed 250,000 passengers to board their planes with minimal or no security screening. As one security expert commenting on the Toronto experience dryly noted “If terrorists had known that in those three days that their baggage wasn’t going to be searched, that would have been bad.”

    Collective bargaining also prevents the TSA from putting the right employee in the right post. Today, airport screeners earn their promotions through merit and competence, not seniority. This allows the TSA to assign the best screeners to the most sensitive posts and to keep screeners motivated despite the tedium of their jobs.

    Government unions insist on seniority-based promotions in collective bargaining, however. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has already sued the TSA for laying off workers who performed poorly on tests of skill without taking into account their seniority. America needs the best and most motivated screeners in the most sensitive positions, not those on the job the longest.

    The last thing the TSA needs as it examines how to prevent more explosive from being smuggled onto future flights is worrying about whether the AFGE will agree to the new security countermeasures and what the union wants in return. However, President Obama promised the AFGE – a strong supporter of his campaign – that his nominee to head the TSA would begin collective bargaining. Erroll Southers has ducked this question, meaning he almost certainly would help the President deliver on this promise. That helps the union movement expand, but puts American lives at risk. So Sen. DeMint has placed Southers’ nomination on hold.

    Sen. DeMint deserves praise for preventing such an ill-advised change in policy from going through under the radar. By preventing the TSA from being tied down in a sea of collectively bargained red-tape he has improved the safety of American travelers. The Senate should carefully consider and debate the Southers nomination. The stakes–American lives–are too high for them to ignore.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  3. #3
    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    27 Jan 06
    DPRK, Demokratik People's Republik of Kalifornia
    Government employees should not be allowed to form labor unions.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

  4. #4
    Senior Contributor Rumrunner's Avatar
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    15 Jul 09
    New York, NY - Da Heights
    The TSA needs to be disbanded along with the ungodly debacle of an agency known as "Homeland Security". Put everything back the way it was, and fire the top 30% of the department heads who still refuse to work with each other.
    You know JJ, Him could do it....

  5. #5
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    zraver's Avatar
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    22 Oct 06
    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    government employees should not be allowed to form labor unions.

  6. #6
    Ex-Wabber Defense Professional
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    10 Dec 04
    Quote Originally Posted by Rumrunner View Post
    The TSA needs to be disbanded along with the ungodly debacle of an agency known as "Homeland Security". Put everything back the way it was, and fire the top 30% of the department heads who still refuse to work with each other.
    Then fire another 30% just on general principle.

    Simple way to secure the airlines- just mandate that all Congresscritters and Gov't employees fly on commercial airlines. No private charters, no DOD Gulfstreams, etc. Make'em ride with the rest of us inmates, and air travel will be restored to the pleasant experience it once was.

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