Obama Should Take Stand and Make Recess Appointment of TSA Nominee Held Up By GOP

Who's at fault for TSA's lack of a chief? The senator who's holding up Obama's nominated pick. Here's why.

If President Obama wants to shift the debate on what the administration should have done to prevent the attempted terrorist attack last week on a U.S. passenger plane, he'll take a stand an make a recess appointment of his nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration, which today exists without a permanent chief in place.

Why? Because Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina has put a hold on the nomination to express the GOP's opposition to the unionization of TSA screeners, which Obama supports.

DeMint, a favorite of the Tea Party crowd, has been one of Obama's most vitriolic self-appointed nemeses since the president took office. His beef with Obama over the president's nomination of Erroll Southers for TSA chief administrator is the president's promise to allow TSA screeners to collectively bargain, a fundamental right forbidden them by the Bush administration.

DeMint makes a bogus argument about collective bargaining somehow being a threat to public safety when, in fact, it would actually be a boon to public safety. Absent collective bargaining rights, TSA screeners risk disciplinary action or firing for complaining about a supervisor, even if that supervisor puts the public at risk by his or her actions.

I know this for a fact. As a member of the communications team at the American Federation of Government Employees from 2001-2005, I worked with AFGE team that was organizing TSA screeners, despite the union's inability to represent the TSA workers in negotiation with the administration. To explain the union's unethically thwarted status, I used to tell reporters that the union represented TSA screeners "in the courts of law and public opinion."


Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.
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