December 3rd, 2009
08:23 AM ET
9 years ago

Senator blocks TSA confirmation over union dispute

Washington (CNN)–The nation's 50,000 airport baggage screeners - upgraded to "federal transportation officers" under the Bush administration - could get another title under the Obama administration: Union members.

But not without a fight.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, is blocking the confirmation of Erroll Southers to head the Transportation Security Administration, saying Southers would permit screeners to seek full union representation, a move DeMint says would weaken the effectiveness of the agency.

Unionizing baggage screeners would make the agency "much less flexible" in making quick changes, such as those made overnight in August of 2006 when the British uncovered a plot to destroy planes using liquid bombs, DeMint said.

Union leaders counter that unionization could improve national security by improving screener morale and working conditions.

DeMint's decision to block Southers' nomination is the most visible sign of a debate that has simmered since the creation of the Transportation Security Administration. When the agency was formed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress specifically prevented its workers from seeking full union representation, saying the agency needed to be nimble to respond to threats.

Later, the government opted to allow screeners to join unions, but without "collective bargaining," limiting its ability to influence changes.

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Filed under: Popular Posts
January 19th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
14 years ago

Secret Service countersnipers hunt for real snipers

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/19/sniper.training/art.snipers.cnn.jpg caption="Countersniper teams will be familiar with every potential threat, according to the Secret Service."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Look up at any presidential event and you're likely to see them: men dressed in black, armed to the teeth, looking back.

It's no secret; they're with the Secret Service.

On Tuesday at the inauguration, members of the U.S. Secret Service's elite countersniper unit will be out in force, taking roof-top positions along Pennsylvania Avenue and elsewhere as the presidential motorcade glides past throngs of people for the swearing in of Barack Obama.

The Secret Service doesn't mind you knowing they are up there. In fact, their mere presence at the inauguration has a deterrent effect, they say. But they are mum about many other details, including how many teams will be deployed, how long they work and about their custom firearms.

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Filed under: Inauguration
January 14th, 2009
09:09 AM ET
14 years ago

Inauguration statistics and logistics fever seizes the nation's capital

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/14/art.inaug.gi.jpg caption="How many people will show up for the swearing-in?"]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Seven days to Inauguration Day and counting.

And counting. And counting.

- 20+ jumbotrons.
- 5,000 port-a-potties.
- 10,000 National Guard troops.

But the statistic most people want to know is currently unknowable: How many people will show up?

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Filed under: Inauguration