All you travelers stuck in mile-long TSA security lines are pawns. Convenient political pawns. Big Labor bosses want more power and more money. Stranded travelers are just the latest victims in this age-old game of D.C. extortion.
Union leaders want you to think the fault lies with a stingy Congress unwilling to fork over enough money to fill screener shortages. White House spokesman Josh Earnest poured more partisan fuel on the fire last week by blaming the nationwide slowdowns on "the inability of Republicans in Congress to govern the country."
What a load of flying horse hockey.
The 15-year-old Transportation Security Administration now has a massive annual budget of nearly $7.6 billion and a workforce of nearly 60,000. They had enough tax dollars to waste on an idiotic $1.4 million iPad app that randomly points left or right; $3 million on more than 200 useless explosive detection "puffer" machines that didn't detect explosives reliably; and unknown gobs in awards and automatic bonuses to senior TSA managers at a time when the agency was repeatedly failing internal tests of its ability to stop weapons, bombs and terror threats.
Yet, last week, with airlines, airports and customers all raising holy hell, Congress scraped together $34 million more to pay TSA screeners overtime and fund nearly 800 more screeners to address the summer travel crush.
It's still not enough of course. It's never enough. Since last fall, the TSA workforce (unionized under the Obama administration) has staged protests at major airports (including Dallas-Fort Worth, JFK, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Atlanta) organized by the American Federation of Government Employees, which is demanding full collective bargaining rights under federal labor law, along with hefty pay increases.
Obstruction is priority number one.
The agitators whine that TSA workers are not "respected" enough as a profession. "Morale for TSA Officers is at an all-time low," AFGE TSA Council President Hydrick Thomas complained in a recent statement. "We work very hard under some of the most stressful and dangerous conditions, but are treated like second-class employees as compared to the rest of the federal workforce. We just want equal treatment."
Perhaps if TSA officials weren't letting 95 percent of mock explosives and firearms through during audits and inspections, or if they weren't gratuitously groping grandmas and breast-feeding moms and wounded veterans, or recklessly handing out TSA Precheck status "like candy" as one whistleblower put it last year, or dumping 3,000 pieces of luggage in parking lots as a result of software "glitches," as happened last week at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport, or employing unknown numbers of criminals, or rewarding serial failures, we wouldn't all be snickering at their Rodney "I don't get no respect!" Dangerfield comedy routine.
Expanding TSA workers' collective bargaining rights is about expanding union bosses' authority to dictate every last detail of employment -- from pay and officer assignments to schedules and uniforms. The reason full bargaining rights under Title V of U.S. labor law have not been extended to TSA agents is to protect the agency's flexibility and discretion in the interest of national security. Yep, remember that? You know, the very reason the TSA was created in the first place?
If you think the current lapses in TSA hiring practices are bad, just wait until you have a system dominated by union negotiators who are allergic to merit pay and committed to protecting every last incompetent member to the death.
TSA union leaders hungry for new members and fattened coffers don't care about your security. This is all about control and money. Multiply 55,000 by $50/month in mandatory union dues and -- voila! -- they'll have $33 million a year to shower on politicians who'll do their bidding.
Is there anything the flying public can do to put a stop to this cynical exercise of Big Labor muscle?
Let me remind you of Government Shutdown Theater in 2013, when Washington held America's monuments and national parks hostage. Remember? Fed-up taxpayers finally revolted and broke down the Barry-cades blocking them from access to the public spaces they subsidize.
I'm not advocating breaking through those long lines in grand acts of civil disobedience (not just yet, anyway). But it is long past time for sick and tired, beleaguered and molested, robbed and overtaxed travelers to demand respect of their own and call out this selfish, security-undermining Big Labor power grab.