Unionizing TSA is a terrible idea

Over at the AJC, Bob Barr has a solid piece on the TSA, which closes by noting the federal government will allow workers the ability to collectively bargain:

In another slap to the faces of air travelers, it was announced recently that TSA’s 40,000 workers have been given the green light to hold a vote on whether or not to unionize. Pistole argues that allowing these workers to unionize will boost morale and enhance productivity. In truth, federal workers’ unions pose a threat to the taxpayers, as they very well could use these new bargaining rights to procure more generous salaries and benefits, under threat of slow-down and other disruptive tactics. Greater job security and bargaining power for TSA employees hardly is likely to result in improved customer service.

Adding another layer of bureaucracy in the mix could affect security as well. National Review columnist Robert VerBruggen notes that collective bargaining could lead to schedules based on seniority, possibly giving the less-desired shifts to the most inexperienced workers. VerBruggen quotes a Republican aide, who argues that “Al-Qaeda might notice this: ‘Hey, the midnight-to-six shift doesn’t seem to have the quickest guys on the line. Let’s run a guy through with contraband and see if they catch him.’”

Does this strike anyone else as a really bad idea. I know that TSA Director John Pistole has said that if workers went on strike, he wouldn’t hesitate to fire them – much like Ronald Reagan fired air traffic controllers in the 80’s. That doesn’t make me sleep better. As we’ve seen in Wisconsin, public-sector workers don’t have to “strike,” they can stage mass call-ins from work. Imagine if TSA workers’ union was in the midst of negotiations when discussions got sour. This would give them the ability to disrupt air travel by going through the same tactics as their counterparts in Wisconsin. TSA workers would have a tremendous amount of leverage over the government to get what they want while not officially going on “strike.”