Right-Wing Media Fearmonger That TSA Collective Bargaining Will Harm Security

Right-wing media have responded to the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) decision to grant collective bargaining rights to TSA workers by fearmongering that it would harm national security.

Right-Wing Media Fearmonger Over TSA Collective Bargaining Rights

Wash. Times: “Instead Of Watching For Terrorists, The New TSA Will Be Watching The Clock.” In a February 8 editorial, The Washington Times wrote that "[a]irport security is compromised by labor goons" and claimed that if TSA workers unionize, "[i]nstead of watching for terrorists, the new TSA will be watching the clock, determined to get home the instant a shift ends." From the Times editorial:

Those plans would do nothing to make airports safer. To the contrary, with collective bargaining power over workplace issues such as work shifts and vacation time, unionized TSA screeners will be even less responsive to public complaints. Any changes that need to be made to address new security threats would need to be negotiated with the union. If an individual worker stays home sick, the TSA might be forced to ask permission from a union representative to ask somebody else on short notice to fill in.


Instead of watching for terrorists, the new TSA will be watching the clock, determined to get home the instant a shift ends. With powerful union lawyers on call to protect from any adverse personal actions, no matter the cause, agents have nothing to fear from mistreating the flying public. This is another example of the administration putting political needs over America's security. [The Washington Times, 2/8/11]

Beck: If TSA Becomes Unionized, “It's Almost Like They Become A Defense Force ... And Not For You.” On the February 7 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck claimed that “you ... wouldn't want to unionize the nation's security team, because, man, it's almost like they become a defense force, isn't it? And not for you.” [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 2/7/11]

Fox's Carlson Asks If TSA Collective Bargaining Will “Put Our Security At Risk.” On the February 7 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated that the “nation's 50,000 airport screeners will also have collective bargaining rights.” She then asked, “But will this put our security at risk?” Carlson then hosted Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) to discuss his proposal to block collective bargaining for TSA workers and asked him, “Why do you believe that allowing collective bargaining for TSA employees threatens our national security?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/7/11]

Wash. Examiner: TSA “Adding A Dangerous New Level Of Politicized Bureaucracy To Airport Security.” In a February 7 editorial, titled, “Will Dems put unions ahead of air safety?” The Washington Examiner wrote that TSA chief John Pistole “claims TSA employees will be prohibited from bargaining 'on any topics that might affect security.' That's a remarkable claim considering the meaning of the 'S' in TSA.” The Examiner later stated that “Pistole is adding a dangerous new level of politicized bureaucracy to airport security.” [Washington Examiner, 2/7/11]

Napolitano Guest Kurokawa: TSA Collective Bargaining Is “Really Scary.” On the February 7 edition of Fox Business' Freedom Watch, Andrew Napolitano hosted Nicole Kurokawa of the Independent Women's Forum, who said collective bargaining is “really scary.” From Freedom Watch:

KUROKAWA: ...This was an unaccountable bureaucracy, and now there's going to be an unaccountable bureaucracy with an additional level of unions that are going to be in the middle of all these decisions. Ostensibly, they can't collectively bargain over all different aspects of how TSA is run, only the non-security aspects. But let's bear one thing in mind -- its middle name is security, so pretty much everything they touch has to do with security. So, not quite sure how they're going to break that down. But it really -- it's really scary. [Fox Business' Freedom Watch, 2/7/11]

TSA: “Bargaining On Any Issues Related To Security Would Be Strictly Prohibited”

TSA: "[W]e Will Not Negotiate On Security." In a February 4 press release outlining Pistole's decision to grant TSA workers collective bargaining rights, TSA stated that “we will not negotiate on security” and that "[b]argaining on any issues related to security would be strictly prohibited." From TSA:

This framework is unique to TSA in that it allows for bargaining at the national-level only - while prohibiting local-level bargaining at individual airports - only on the non-security employment issues identified in the Determination, such as shift bids, transfers and awards. Administrator Pistole's Determination prohibits bargaining on any topics that might affect security, such as:

  • Security policies, procedures or the deployment of security personnel or equipment
  • Pay, pensions and any form of compensation
  • Proficiency testing
  • Job qualifications
  • Discipline standards


Bargaining on any issues related to security would be strictly prohibited. For example, bargaining would not be allowed on security policies, procedures or the deployment of security personnel or equipment, pay, pensions and any form of compensation, proficiency testing, job qualifications or discipline standards.

Officers would also be strictly prohibited from striking or engaging in work slowdowns of any kind.

TSA will continue to engage all of its employees directly on terms and conditions of employment and will retain the right to discipline and terminate employees. [TSA press release, 2/4/11]

FLEOA: “TSA Would Be Fully Capable To Deploy Its Assets Without Any Negative Impact Or Restriction By The Collective-Bargaining Process.” According to a January 5, 2010, Washington Post column, Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) -- which represents more than 25,000 federal law enforcement officers -- stated that "[u]nder exigent circumstances, TSA would be fully capable to deploy its assets without any negative impact or restriction by the collective-bargaining process." Adler further stated that "[t]he collective-bargaining process should not be touted as a Darth Vader obstacle to TSA deploying TSOs [Transportation Security Officers] in a national emergency." [The Washington Post, 1/5/10; FLEOA website, accessed 2/9/11]

Other Federal Security Personnel Have Collective Bargaining Rights. As The Washington Post reported on February 9, "[O]ther security personnel, including those in the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Capitol Police - but not the FBI - have collective bargaining." [The Washington Post, 2/9/11]

Right-Wing Media Pushed For Private Firms To Replace TSA -- But Experts Have Criticized Private Firms' Performance

Right-Wing Media Promoted Call For Private Firms To Replace TSA In Providing Airports Security. As Media Matters has noted, right-wing media have echoed or promoted Rep. John Mica's (R-FL) call for private firms to replace TSA in providing airport security. But experts have said that privatized airport security had previously led to numerous security lapses, and private security firms were regularly criticized over lax hiring and training practices. [Media Matters, 11/17/10]