Wicker Uses Bogus Arguments To Justify Amendment Preventing TSA Employees From Unionizing

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

The Senate is in the process of putting together a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, but it’s become a catch-all for a series of non-related amendments that Senate Republicans are using to score political points. For instance, an amendment repealing the Affordable Care Act was proposed, as was an amendment with Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) cockamamie “default by a different name” plan.

Yet another amendment, proposed by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), would prevent the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from unionizing. Here’s the text. Wicker claims that unionizing would somehow prevent TSA officials from doing their jobs:

“Safeguarding America’s transportation requires both vigilance and flexibility,” Wicker said. “Burdensome and costly union demands could limit the ability of those responsible for security at some of the most high-risk targets to do their job.

Wicker didn’t explain how allowing TSA employees to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits would limit their ability to effectively man their posts. But this is nothing new for the GOP, which has turned whacking TSA unionization into a sort of sport. In fact, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) single-handedly scuttled one of the Obama administration’s nominees for the TSA director because he may have been sympathetic to the agency unionizing.

As Art Levine pointed out at Truthout, the Republican claim that unionization necessarily impairs those dealing with security doesn’t hold water:

Indeed, the Homeland Security Department’s customs and border patrol officers who regularly face criminals are already unionized, with no sign of the common right-wing mythology about union members: there are no goldbrickers loafing back at the union hall while drug smugglers and border-crossing terrorists are being ignored.

Remember, it was unionized pilots and flight attendants that successfully landed and evacuated a jet in the Hudson river without any loss of life, and it was unionized sailors who helped successfully fend off an attack on an American ship by Somali pirates. These examples would seem to refute Wicker’s point that union members can’t function in a crisis.

TSA employees have tentatively scheduled a vote to join the American Federation of Government Employees for March, so Wicker’s amendment would prevent these workers from making their own decision about whether or not the join a union. If its accepted, the amendment would also be a double-whammy for working people, as a provision in last year’s FAA reauthorization that would have ended unfair treatment of FedEx drivers was dropped in this year’s version.