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Practically Every Security-Related Industry Is Unionized, Sen. DeMint

With Democrats belatedly vowing to hold a roll call vote for the nomination of TSA Administrator Errol Southers early next month, it’s worth delving a bit more deeply into Jim DeMint’s complaint about Southers, that he would move to unionize TSA screeners, which would have a deleterious effect on national security.

Surely DeMint, the Republican Party supporting his actions, and every reporter working on this story understand that almost every person whose job it is to protecting the safety and security of the American public is already the member of a union.

The International Union of Police Associations, The National Association of Police Organizations, The International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America and other associated unions cover practically all law enforcement divisions throughout America.

The aforementioned SPFPA, the International Association of Fire Fighters and other unions cover the bulk of fire departments in this country.

The International Association of EMT’s and Paramedics, the National Emergency Medical Services Association and others cover tens of thousands of the nation’s first responders.

Even in the narrow area of air travel, you have the Association of Flight Attendants and the Air Line Pilots Association and dozens of other unions covering workers who day after day ferry passengers safely to their destinations.

Tell us, Mr. DeMint, are the presence of unions in practically every aspect of domestic security, air travel and emergency response harming public safety? Are every one of the hundreds of thousands if not millions of employees in these industries constrained from doing their level best to keep Americans safe, by virtue of collectively bargaining for a better wage and a decent retirement? Or is it just the TSA screeners who need to be kept from the horrors of union membership? Is it OK if the police, the fire fighters, the bag checkers, the flight attendants, the pilots, the ground personnel, the EMTs, the ambulance drivers and the hospital workers are unionized, just not the guys who tell you to take off your shoes at the security checkpoint?

UPDATE: Harry Reid has released a full statement on the Errol Southers nomination.

“The American people deserve the peace of mind to know that their government is doing everything possible to keep them safe. In the Senate, we have an important role in defending America by confirming the President’s nominees for key agencies in a timely fashion.

“One such nominee is Erroll Southers, designated by President Obama to lead the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). As a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert with 30 years of experience in homeland security issues, Mr. Southers would have a critical role in ensuring the safety of our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Despite his qualifications and being reported out by two Senate committees earlier this year, Republicans have decided to play politics with this nomination by blocking final confirmation. Not only is this a failed strategy, but a dangerous one as well with serious potential consequences for our country.

“I urge swift action to get President Obama’s nominees – particularly those related to national security – confirmed as quickly as possible. I will file cloture on Mr. Southers’ nomination when the Senate reconvenes in January to make sure that the President has another key member of his national security team in his place.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen