TSA Administrator Willing to Pull a Reagan

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John Pistole, head of TSA since July, was verbally probed and prodded this morning at a hearing held by the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation. Among the divisive topics was Pistole’s decision to allow collective bargaining among the TSA’s officers (appropriately called TSOs). Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks expressed concerns that collective bargaining was one step away from unionizing and that unionizing was a stone’s throw from strikes, work stoppages and all-out chaos across America, land and sky.

To that end, Brooks grilled Pistole about whether he would be willing to fire the employees, en masse, should his fears play out. And after some badgering, Pistole finally said: Yes.

Reagan was faced with that situation in the ’80s, when almost 13,000 air traffic controllers walked out — flouting a ban on strikes for most federal employees — after failing to get the money, benefits and hours they demanded. A few days later, Regan fired more than 11,000 controllers who ignored his order to return to work (and threw in a lifetime ban on rehiring them, to boot).