Senator Jim DeMint has held up the appointment of the nominee for the Transportation Safety Administration, saying Erroll Southers may allow baggage checkers to seek union membership. After a foiled terrorist bombing on Christmas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to get airline safety in order. Some officials are pointing fingers at Demint for delaying change at the Transportation Safety Administration. He appeared on CNN Tuesday, responding to accusations that he is delaying change at the T.S.A., which serves under Homeland Security.
“The President has been downplaying the threat of terrorism since he took office,” says Demint. “He waited eight months to even nominate someone for this position and then he wanted him approved with no debate and no vote. The only thing I asked for was limited debate and a recorded vote. Senator (Harry) Reid of Nevada (Senate Majority Leader) could have done that months ago. But that fact is they’ve been working on other things and have not seen airport security as a priority.”
Two Senate committees have OK’d Southers who is currently the Los Angeles World Airport’s Police Department’s assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence. He is a adjunct professor on terrorism at the University of Southern California and a former FBI agent.
Demint says airport security personnel should not be tied up with unions. “There is a reason collective bargaining was prohibited from airport security,” he says. “It is very different from a local police department. They’re having to deal with international threats as we saw on Christmas Day. They have to constantly be changing. There is no good security reason that we should submit this to collective bargaining. All it is is politics. The President promised the unions that he would bring these 50,000 people into unions.”
The American Federation of Government Employees disagree with Demint saying unionization is not a security issue. The organization says that their is no evidence that labor rights have any effect on security officers and that airport security officers are a dedicated workforce who see their jobs as important to the security of the nation.