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Friday, April 29, 2011 

The not-so-secret anti-worker agenda in Oversight’s TSA hearings

 

Issa managed to keep it on the backburner for a few months, but his anti-worker agenda bubbled up earlier this month when he brought in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to blast public-employee unions from the Oversight Committee platform. Issa has coupled that with less-visible meddling in the labor negotiations of the US Postal Service, attempting to dictate the terms in unprecedented hearings that remind some of Joseph McCarthy's anti-union tactics in the 50s.
 
In a similar vein, IssaWatch has been tracking the ongoing hearings conducted by Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz into screening procedures at the TSA. There are a number of troubling aspects to the new TSA practices in the last year or so, but from the beginning these hearings have had a decidedly more partisan tinge.
 
At Alternet this week, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine analyze how the Oversight hearings on the TSA fits into a long-standing GOP strategy to demonize workers and undermine their ability to organize, starting in November:
 
when the same basic strategy was used to wage war against the TSA’s 55,000 employees, who have been locked in a savage decade-long battle to gain the same collective bargaining rights that employees of all other federal agencies enjoy. Unlike in Wisconsin, the Republican right succeeded in burying the story about the TSA employees’ struggle for collective bargaining rights underneath a sophisticated, well-PR’d campaign demonizing TSA screeners as modern-day Gestapo agents, rapists and child molesters.
 
But lost in all the media hysteria vilifying the TSA was the appalling story of labor abuse against the agency’s screeners, a consequence of Republican anti-union policies. If anyone is wondering why collective bargaining rights are so important to public sector workers, look no further than the TSA, whose employees suffer the lowest morale and highest attrition rates of any federal agency, year after year. Complaints and lawsuits abound, accusing TSA management of rampant sexual harassment, racism, bullying, wrongful termination and abuse of power. If that didn’t make working in the TSA difficult enough, the recent campaign demonizing TSA agents as modern-day Gestapo-agents turned them into the most hated of all federal employees; passengers, encouraged by incendiary PR, hurled abuses in TSA screeners’ faces, and in a few cases even physically attacked screeners.
 
Darrell Issa has deep ties to the Koch Brothers and other deep-pocketed interests whose influence over the Right has grown since Citizens United. And he's been openly pursuing a purely pro-corporate agenda at the Oversight Committee from day one, when he solicited lobbyists and industry representatives to help set the committee's investigative agenda. In other words: Issa is a team player here. So it fits right in with what Ames and Levine found when they dug into the TSA controversy:
 
Sure enough, we uncovered numerous Koch-linked libertarian activists spearheading the campaign to demonize TSA screeners, DC lobbyists specializing in fake-grassroots campaigns setting up “Opt Out” websites while posing as regular Joes, and sleazy Republican hacks who had shown little interest in protecting civil liberties suddenly getting their ACLU on over the TSA’s intrusive pat-downs and “porn scans.”
 
From the very beginning, there has been widespread concern that Darrell Issa would use his new sweeping authority to pursue a thinly-veiled irresponsible and hyper-partisan agenda instead of responsible oversight. Those concerns have been confirmed time and again, from financial reform to environmental protections and from transparency hypocrisy to rewarding campaign contributors. As the richest man in Congress continues to put the Koch Brothers and his other rich friends before the interests of working Americans, the pattern repeats again.

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Another attack against the middle class to strip employees of their right to collective bargaining and health care for their families!!

at 5:43 pm on Sun, May 1, 2011Posted by fred widmer

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