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Oh, Fun. JFK Security Workers Vote to Strike Over Holidays

December 17, 2012 at 3:56 PM | by | Comments (0)

You're a non-union employee responsible for some security at an airport, and you're trying to win public support on a controversy involving, first, your immediate working conditions and, second, your broad campaign to unionize. You need to walk the fine political line between asserting your rights and showing that you can be responsible. So what do you do?

If you're about 100 workers at JFK Terminal 3, apparently you vote to strike over the holidays starting December 20. You do this while your union supporters proudly retweet stories about disrupting family holiday plans. We're not experts in the travel industry or in public campaigning or anything, but it doesn't seem like they've thought their brilliant plan all the way through.

We've never quite understood the idea of travel industry workers going on strike around the holidays. Put aside for a second the most obvious objection, which is that it's guaranteed to be counterproductive as long as "productive" still means some approximation of "gaining public support and sympathy" the way it always has. That's an important point, and it's why British and French airline unions get walloped every time they try to pull this stunt.

But in this case the politics are even more tangled. The striking workers, who do things like direct traffic in front of terminals and secure tarmacs, aren't TSA workers and aren't unionized. So at a minimum you'd think that the TSA unions which have been so controversial wouldn't be involved.

You'd be wrong. Because the non-union workers want to unionize and they're going to be marching with union supporters. So the country is about to get treated to a spectacle where security officers striking over the holiday will be marching alongside union members and demanding to be unionized. We're skeptical that insanely frustrated travelers are going to think to themselves "well they're not really unionized, and they're not really TSA, you know." More likely the opposite is going to happen, which is that you'll see a drop in sympathy for collective bargaining of airport security workers.

Has anyone called up TSA officials—who technically aren't allowed to strike under their union agreement—and asked them how they feel about all this?

Anyway, video:

[Photo: ABC Local]

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