Amity Shlaes | Pact Between Unions and Politicians Makes Us Less Safe

Relief was the main sentiment of travelers who planned to pass through John F. KennedyInternational Airport in New York when security workers there canceled the threat of a Christmastime strike.

Yet two troubling questions linger. The first involves the airport workers’ specific grievances. They complained of making only $8 an hour. Why so low, you wonder, especially compared with what union workers in security-related jobs get. The guards, hired by the contractor Air Serv Corp., were so angry that one of them even expressed a warning that those in safety fields often don’t make explicit: that a labor action could compromise the public’s security. “They will be completely unsafe,” said the guard, Prince Jackson.

The second question is why the nation now confronts the prospect of more labor trouble that could inconvenience the public, or possibly jeopardize safety, whether in Camden, New Jersey, where firemen are warning of the danger of closing engine companies, or in Long Beach, California, where a clerical employees’ strike delayed the movement of goods worth $1 billion a day in a recent work stoppage.

The answer to both questions lies in the failure of an old grand bargain made in the very name of safety.


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