June 11th, 2010
07:52 AM ET
5 years ago

TSA nominee faces questions about unionizing airport screeners

FBI Deputy Director John Pistole during his confirmation hearing Thursday to head the Transportation Security Administration.
FBI Deputy Director John Pistole during his confirmation hearing Thursday to head the Transportation Security Administration.

Washington (CNN) - There was little debate about job qualifications and more talk about whether screeners at the nation's airports should be able to unionize during Thursday's confirmation hearing for the president's latest nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration.

John Pistole, currently deputy director of the FBI, generally received praise for his law enforcement experience, but several Republican senators - including South Carolina's Jim DeMint, who placed a hold on an earlier nominee for the same reason - pressed Pistole to oppose allowing airport screeners to unionize.

Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson told Pistole she is "adamantly against" allowing screeners to join unions.

"You can't have eight hour days," said Hutchinson. "You have to be able to respond to emergencies."

Pistole did not express an opinion on whether TSA workers should be able to unionize but told the senators that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has asked him to study the issue.

Full story


Filed under: Jim DeMint • Kay Bailey Hutchison • TSA
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Big George in Big D

    Unions are bad for this country. Just look at what they have done to General Motors! The SEIU is the stupidest buch of ninnies I've seen. All unions do is feed their greedy leaders.

    June 11, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. PDiddy

    Can someone please inform Sen. Hutchinson that screeners do not respond to emergencies, they protect the nations airports by screening passengers and luggage. They have no Law Enforcement authority, they do not have powers of arrest. They call airport police or TSA LE (Air Marshalls or FBI). So there's no reason to keep them from forming unions. Even if a small number of them do respond to "emergencies", I am sure that a condition of their employment already requires that they be available 24-7.

    June 11, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. Allen

    You think going through airport security is ridiculously slow now, just wait until the unions get hold of it. Don't think you're going to make your flight should you arrive at break time, and I don't even want to think about what would happen should a terrorist try to board a plane during the union mandated lunch hour.

    If unions take over TSA, airport security ceases to be about getting you, the passenger, to your destination safely. Airport security now becomes more about the TSA employee and their lunch, their breaks, and what exactly their bs contract says they can and can't do.

    June 11, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. Willy Brown

    Unions and the democrats are the problem

    June 11, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Jeez, we can't let workers organize, how would we exploit them then? Listen, union bashers, Y'all say unions killed American industry, right? Then how do you explain the disappearing manufacturing in the union-busting "right to work" states? First you stole all of the manufacturing jobs from the north and when capital realized they could get even cheaper labor in Asia, they dumped you too. But just keep believing your corporate masters' propaganda, consumerbots. I laugh every time a red state non-union employee loses their home or goes bankrupt from a medical emergency. Have a nice day!

    June 11, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Here we go again with the same old song NO !! i think its time for him to just go !!!!

    June 11, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. thor

    There was a time in our country when labor unions were sorely needed.Today,they have only become a mechanism to make their leaders wealthy and powerful.To help them to stay that way they have alligned themselves with the democrat party that is trying to take the country in the direction of socialism.I hope Americans realize what's going on before it's too late.

    June 11, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. katiec

    It is up to the workers, not politicians, to decide whether they want to form a union.
    The big business republicans, of course, are against this choice.

    June 11, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. brian in denver

    DeMint is demented, as is Kay Bailey. To suggest that security would be jeopardized by the 8 hr workday is ignorant. Should an emergency arise, the TSA employees would respond accordingly, working overtime if necessary. Where have these knuckleheads been hiding?

    June 11, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. Jim

    I would say having a bunch of right wing nuts running the Republican party hurts our security more than unionizing TSA screeners. I think people whould have the right to collectively bargain with their employers.

    June 11, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. madmatt

    Ah republicans, it is much better that america suffer a terrorist attack rather than govt workers forming unions.

    June 11, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. are the screeners important?

    if it is so important, with all the on edge that airports are these days, I think their jobs should have status and importance

    so you want them to be effective? treat them like they have very important jobs to do, expect and hire high quality alert people

    June 11, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. G

    This is an Obama "pay back" to the Unions that supported him. First they should try treating the workers well and giving them benefits, then the workers won't need a Union. This is not the Change that we were promised!

    June 11, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. Anne

    Police and firemen have unions and it hasn't interfered with their ability to respond to emergencies.

    June 11, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. Deborah/KansasCity

    Republicans are always anit working folks and try to destroy any chance they have at being treated fairly.

    June 11, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Brenda

    The screeners should not be able to join unions.

    You can't have screeners go on strike--placing the airlines-–and millions of people who rely on the airlines--at the mercy of the workers/unions if they strike.

    These workers should be paid well and know the requirements of the job--including odd hours/shifts, etc.-–but they should not be able to join unions.

    June 11, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. mother and sister of a soldier

    With the security of our coutry and airports at stake, it is the last place to allow a union. Unions no longer have a place in this country. They are a large part of our problem.

    June 11, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. Ron in California.

    Of course TSA employees should not be allowed to unionize. You can't give folks strike rights where national securiity is involved. Also, Unions are corrupt organizations fo the most part..who wants a corrupt organization running airport security

    June 11, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |