Saturday, May 8, 2010

TSA Tussle: Apparently, this man needs more than a union...

Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts.  Our plane trip to Miami International Airport is going to be a bumpy ride and our film today is rated PG-13.

First, some background:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency comprised of those blue-shirted workers with badges who are responsible for ensuring that the airplane you board is devoid of any jihadists preparing to lay claim to their 72 raisins.  The TSA was created as a result of 19 men who, nine years ago, decided turn commercial airliners into missiles and killed over three thousand Americans.

When the TSA was created, it was created to ensure America's safety in the skies and, when not doing that, to make your trip to the airport a living hell by making sure you don't carry any liquid containers greater than three ounces in your carry-on luggage.  And, because the nation's security is its primary purpose, it was intended to be exempt from collective bargaining [which is different from not being allowed to join a union].
When TSA was created during the Bush administration, its head was given the authority to decide if agency employees would have the right to bargain. Former administrator Kip Hawley decided against extending bargaining rights.

The rationale for keeping the TSA free from collective bargaining was fairly simple.  As the TSA is responsible for keeping America's skies free from evil people with bad intentions, the TSA should not be overburdened with union contracts that protect the lazy and incompetent and rules that impede flexibility.
Again, TSA officers can join a union, but they are not covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Many news reports have stated for years that this is about denying workers their right to join a union. That is false.  Today, Transportation Security Officers (TSOs), the screeners at the airports, ARE permitted to voluntarily join a union.  About 12,000 TSA workers already belong to the American Federation of Government Employees union (AFGE) . They are represented, at their request, by a union representative in grievance procedures and job safety complaints. The TSA will also withhold union dues for an employee, if he so chooses.


The only thing TSOs are not currently permitted to have through their union is a collective bargaining agreement – a written contract that legally binds the TSA to specific wages, hours of work, assigned responsibilities and procedures, and union rules.

But that was then.

With the election of America's union-controlled backed president and the appointment of his incompetent Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, one of the priorities given to the TSA has been to find a way to catch terrorists give TSA workers the right to bargain contracts.  In fact it was a campaign promise made by then-candidate Obama to the President of the American Federation of Government Employees:
Advocating for TSOs to receive collective bargaining rights and workplace protections will be a priority for my administration.  It is unacceptable for TSOs to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections – this makes it more difficult for them to perform their jobs.  Since 2001, TSA has had the unfettered ability to deny its workforce even the most basic labor rights and protections.  Other law enforcement officers – from Border Patrol Agents to Federal Protective Officers to the U.S. Capitol Police—all have collective bargaining rights. 


[snip] 


As President, I will make sure that the documented waste and mismanagement at TSA is subject to the same rules regarding contracting as other federal agencies.


Oh.  And one last thing: Those TSA workers are also the ones that will be viewing some of your most private "data" at an airport near you.


Now, for your inflight movie...

Meet TSA officer Rolando Negrin.

Rolando Negrin is a very possibly going to be ex-TSA officer Negrin.

Now, you may be wondering, why might Rolando be terminated from his job as a TSA worker?


Was Rolando among the TSA workers fired for allegedly using dugs?

Did he cause a terminal to be shut down for hours because someone got past his expertise screening?

050610 rolando negrin

No, no, and no.

Rolando got in trouble because of his 'package'...or, more precisely, because of the smallness of his package.

You see, Officer Negrin was involved in a training session involving those body scanners when his supervisor allegedly made fun of Rolando's rather small...er...package.  And that's where things got out of hand (so to speak).


A TSA worker in Miami was arrested for aggravated battery after police say he attacked a colleague who'd made fun of his small genitalia after he walked through one of the new high-tech security scanners during a recent training session.


Rolando Negrin, 44, was busted for assault after things got ugly at Miami International Airport between Negrin and some of his fellow Transportation Security Administration workers on Tuesday.


Sources say Negrin stepped into the machine during the training session and became embarrassed and angry when a supervisor started cracking jokes about his manhood, made visible by the new machine.


[snip]


According to the police report, Negron confronted one of his co-workers in an employee parking lot, where he hit him with a police baton on the arm and back.


"[Negron] then told victim to kneel down and say 'your sorry,'" the report reads. "Victim stated he was in fear and complied with [Negron]."


Negron was arrested the next day when he arrived for work. He told police he had been made fun of by coworkers on a daily basis.


"[Negron] stated he could not take the jokes anymore and lost his mind," the report reads.


Negrin was arrested and booked into Miami-Dade County Jail. His arrest photo (above) shows him wearing his blue TSA shirt at the time of the arrest.

While this "little" incident raises questions about just how much the full-body scanners actually show, it also raises the question of whether or not having a union contract would benefit a TSA worker like Mr. Negrin.

Would a union use a union contract to hammer the TSA about the head as it fights to keep Rolando's job (despite the fact that he beat on a colleague)?

It's clear from the above that Rolando's defense would be temporary insanity, so it is likely that a union would pursue that as its line of defense.

Moreover, after all the taxpayer dollars that would be wasted on grievance meetings and arbitration costs, what precedence would this set if Rolando were to get his job back?

Would all TSA workers be free to beat on their co-workers if they 'lost their minds' over teasing?  After all, were one be able to get away with it, and another get fired, the union's argument would be that the TSA's actions are "disparate treatment."

In the end, while this incident in Miami seems rather small, it's ramifications could be quite large if TSA workers are put under union contract.

__________________
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Cross-posted.

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