Op-Ed: Biden Puts Job Security Over Airport Security

October 13, 2021

By Chad Wolf and James Sherk

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will undoubtedly create a haven for terrorists who have historically targeted the U.S. aviation system. So how is President Biden addressing this threat? By expanding collective bargaining at the Transportation Security Administration and extending civil-service protections to airport security screeners. These shortsighted policies will put American lives at risk.

Until recently, TSA airport screeners couldn’t appeal removals through civil-service procedures. The airport screeners’ union also had limited collective-bargaining powers. The union could negotiate subjects like shift-transfer procedures and where employees took their breaks, but they couldn’t bargain over subjects that could interfere with TSA’s mission, like security procedures or personnel deployments. This allowed the TSA to remove poorly performing airport screeners. It also gave unions input on matters of employee convenience, while giving the TSA discretion to do whatever necessary to protect Americans. These restrictions existed for good reason.

Civil-service rules make removing federal employees prohibitively difficult. Firing a poor performer can take as long as a year. Employees can then appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, which often overturns removals. In 2012, the MSPB forced the U.S. Postal Service to reinstate an employee fired for bringing cocaine onto federal property. This happened despite the employee being arrested and convicted of illegal drug use. Polls show federal employees themselves believe the government handles poor performers badly.

Read more in WSJ | Opinion.

Chad Wolf serves as Chairman, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) and James Sherk serves as Director, Center for American Freedom for AFPI.

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