Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, January 4, 2010

National insecurity

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) may wave the flag and beat his chest, bloviating about patriotism and national security with the zealousness of Dick Cheney, every time something that reeks of terrorism comes onto his radar. But, despite bipartisan support for President Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Senator DeMint prefers to demagogue labor unions and keep a hold on the nomination of Erroll Southers, rather than keep America safe.

It's well known that American union workers are among the best trained. Sometimes unions fight to increase training standards for workers, sometimes they provide training to the workers on their own, and sometimes it's a combination of both. But rather than have a highly trained workforce at TSA, Senator DeMint would prefer to privatize airport security so that his corporate masters can make a buck at the expense of safe air travel. Without the unions to protect workers (and passengers) the bottom line can be padded at the expense of safety and worker training. And as we've unfortunately seen recently, perhaps better training is exactly what TSA needs. From SEIU International's website:

When it comes to the security sector, better training can go a long way. According to the 9/11 Commission, 85 percent of our nation's critical infrastructure is controlled by private security companies. Security officers are the "first" first responders during catastrophes. Though they provide crucial services, private security contractors aim to keep costs at a minimum and put officers on the job quickly, which can be at the expense of proficient training. Such low standards not only increase security risks, but it also contributes to the high turnover rates of officers that rival the fast food industry at up to 300%.

Through partnerships with employers and legislative efforts, SEIU members have established security officer training and education funds, helped pass laws that increase officer training requirements and won updated equipment standards.

So instead of doing whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of air travelers, Senator DeMint is demonizing labor so that his business buddies can cut their overhead in the name of the Almighty Dollar. Perhaps this should have been another "Meet the Hypocrites" post, since DeMint waves the flag and talks about national security every chance he gets, yet sells out to corporate interests that will make us less safe.


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