Hutchison Questions TSA Nominee on Need for Flexible Workforce to React Quickly to Emerging Threats

Has Serious Concerns with Collective Bargaining for TSA security Screeners

June 10, 2010

Hutchison PortraitWASHINGTON, D.C. - During a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing today on John Pistole, the nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said she had serious concerns with collective bargaining for TSA security screeners. Senator Hutchison said it was critical for the agency to have a flexible workforce that can react quickly to emerging threats.

“The TSA Administrator must be able to assure not only the security of all modes of transportation, but also the economic viability of the country’s transportation system and the free flow of commerce,” said Senator Hutchison.  “Previous TSA Administrators have maintained that allowing screeners to collectively bargain would negatively impact the agency’s fundamental security mission. There is a real need for TSA to have a flexible workforce which can react quickly to emerging threats."

Hutchison emphasized the importance of maintaining secure transportation systems to allow for the free flow of goods and travelers.

“We place great trust in TSA, much like the FBI, to do its job effectively and efficiently,” said Senator Hutchison.  “However, in order to do the job properly, TSA will need long-term leadership with a clear, yet flexible, strategy to identify and act on current and future threats.  Unfortunately, much like our transportation systems, our threats are vast and reach across our country and the world.  While balancing those two conflicting systems will be tremendously difficult, it is paramount.”

Hutchison also contrasted the need for leadership and the challenges of heading the TSA, compared to the FBI.

“Next month, the FBI will celebrate its 102nd anniversary.  By contrast, TSA is in only its ninth year of existence.  But, since 9/11, the FBI has had to reinvent itself as a more prevention-oriented, intelligence-driven agency.  I think the President made the right choice this time, and if confirmed, I am hopeful Mr. Pistole’s experience managing change at the FBI would inform his leadership decisions and strategy at the TSA.”   

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You can view Senator Hutchison’s opening statement here.

You can view Senator Hutchison’s questions on collective bargaining here.