TSA chief embraces unionization

Shaun Waterman|The Washington Times

Pistole’s claim of benefits for safety agency draws GOP fire

Pat on the Back : Way to go Comrade

ASPEN, Colo. — Transportation Security Administration chief John S. Pistole on Thursday welcomed the controversial unionization of his agency’s 47,000 airport screeners.

“I think collective bargaining at the national level … will help in things completely unrelated to the security aspect,” such as consistency of management standards, Mr. Pistole told the Aspen Security Forum.

He said that at employee town halls at airports across the country, he had been “hearing frustrations from front-line officers about the lack of consistency” from their management on issues such as performance feedback or how to wear their uniforms.

When he took over TSA in 2009, Mr. Pistole added, “A lot of people don’t realize — there were already 13,000 [screeners] paying dues to one of two unions, without any collective-bargaining authority, so there was a frustration” about that, too.

Collective bargaining, he noted, would only cover “nonsecurity employment issues” and would specifically exclude any topics that might affect security, such as security procedures, the deployment of personnel or equipment, testing and qualifications for screeners, disciplinary issues, and pay and pensions.

He added that in February, when he allowed the vote on collective bargaining, an election for TSA workers to choose a union had already been ordered by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. To hold such a ballot and allow staff to choose a union to represent them exclusively, without granting collective-bargaining authority to the union they picked, “would make no sense,” he concluded.

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