12.29.2009

security theatre redux: when all else fails, blame unions

Yesterday I blogged about the "security theatre" being acted out in airports all over North America right now. In comments, I learned that same stage is presenting another tired old standard: union bashing.

Raw Story:
Republican senator Jim DeMint used the attempted attack on a airplane bound for Detroit as an excuse to voice opposition to unions.

Absent any other television guests interested in countering Senator DeMint's assertions, Fox News provided him a national forum for a broad attack on labor. He warned, "The administration is intent on unionizing and submitting our airport security to union bosses' collective bargaining."

The senator from South Carolina told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace that unionization is a threat to airport security because collective bargaining prevents flexibility.

"We have to out-think the terrorists and when we formed the airport security system, we realized we could not use collective bargaining and unionization because of that need to be flexible," DeMint said.

McClatchy:
Who's running the TSA? No one, thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint

An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration — if there were one.

The post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has held up President Barack Obama's nominee in opposition to the prospect of TSA workers joining a labor union.

Which made me think of posts like this, by Anonymous Is A Woman, reminding us of all the "everyday heroes" whose union training and standards have saved lives, and this one by emptywheel reminding us that "the miracle on the Hudson" was a union-made product.

Jim DeMint's brand of obstructionism tries to divide us into two camps: the people waiting in long lines to board airplanes, and the people whose job it is to move those lines along. He wants us to hate and resent the TSA workers for trying to get a decent contract. Hell, he wants us to hate them for having a contract at all! Who are they to deserve decent jobs? They're lucky just to have jobs at all! Let them shut up and be grateful!

Who benefits if workers stay divided? Employers.

Who benefits if workers have the right to collective bargaining? Everyone.

From Oot and Aboot with Some Canadian Skeptic:
Do your children have to work anymore? Thank a union.
Does your workweek cap at 40 hours? Thank a union.
Do you get health benefits? Thank a union.
Do you get maternity leave? Thank a union.
Do you get sick leave? Thank a union.
Does your workplace have safety-precautions? Thank a union.
Have a weekend? Thank a union.
Do you have more time off than time at work? Thank a union.
Do you get to retire one day? Thank a union.
Ever have a paid holiday? Thank a union.
Take a day off and not been fired? Thank a union.
Not been fired for being gay, black, or a woman? Thank a union.
Do you get overtime pay? Thank a union.
Have a minimum wage? Thank a union.
Has that minimum wage risen since the 1970's? Thank a union.

[The whole post is excellent.]

I have a few questions for Jim DeMint.

Which do you think will make us safer - minimum wage jobs with no benefits, no paid time off, and a high turnover, or living-wage jobs with good benefits and moderate stability?

If TSA workers are the "thin blue line" keeping the skies safe from shoebombers, which is more important - preventing them from bargaining collectively for better working conditions, or having a strong, secure workforce?

DeMint said President Obama should "put the interests of American travelers ahead of organized labor". But he interests of labour are the interests of American travelers. Labour and those travelers are the same people, and good jobs will benefit all of them. How about we put the interests of people ahead of anti-union corporations?

1 comment:

redsock said...

Do your children have to work anymore? Thank a union.

British scholar William Donnelley disagrees:

"Before the turn of the 19th century, frail boys and girls had no choice but to sit at home all day, playing with their younger siblings, just watching as another empty, unproductive week passed them by. Once the Industrial Revolution began, however, any child able to fit inside a narrow mining shaft, or reach deep within a malfunctioning textile press, could venture out into the world and find himself a job."