Letters to the Editor

Readers write about how unions would affect the TSA, whether or not Congress should raise the federal gas tax, and Zimbabwe's political power standoff.

Unionize the Transportation Security Administration

In regard to the Dec. 8 Opinion piece, "End, don't mend, the Transportation Security Administration": Author Becky Akers implies that unionizing airport passenger screeners would do little to improve the functioning of this agency. I disagree.

Throughout the federal sector, the evidence is clear that unionization produces a stable, professional, well-trained, and accountable workforce. That would be especially important at TSA, where employees do not yet have collective bargaining rights, and where the agency faces one of the highest turnover rates among federal agencies. Despite the issues that raises, 7 in 10 respondents in a recent survey by a nonprofit organization said the government is doing an excellent or good job protecting air travel.

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) already represents some 2,000 TSA employees, as well as more than 20,000 front-line security workers in US Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security. Expanding full collective bargaining rights to TSA employees will provide them with a meaningful voice in their workplace, stabilize their agency, and result in improved national security.

Colleen M. Kelley

President

National Treasury Employees Union

Washington, D.C.

Should the US raise its gas tax?

In regard to the Dec. 10 editorial, "Pump up the federal gas tax": Recently, Tom Brokaw asked Barack Obama on "Meet the Press" if he'd consider such an idea and Mr. Obama rejected it. Obama isn't misguided about the federal gas tax at all. Many American families have been barely able to pay their winter heating bills over these past four years because of the outrageous oil prices. We are taxed to death on everything from alcohol to clothes.

Obama understands the pain Americans are going through. Raising the federal gas tax is the last thing we need right now.

Matthias Cooke
Ontonagon, Mich.

Congress should increase the gas tax by 10 cents each year for the next 10 years. This would allow the transportation industry enough time to re-engineer their products and phase out inefficient equipment. It is also possible that such a gas tax could, to a large extent, perhaps even totally, be offset by the reduced price of oil. Aside from pinching the wallets of the few remaining people who insist on hanging on to Hummers and other gas guzzling monsters, I can't see the downside.

Stuart Edberg
Los Angeles

Check Mugabe's power

Regarding the Dec. 12 article, "Zimbabwe cholera outbreak threatens regional stability": This article is mostly accurate, but at the end it says that President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister-elect Morgan Tsvangirai are "bickering" about cabinet posts, implying mutual blame for the lack of a coalition government.

Actually, it is Mugabe who stands in the way by insisting he get all the real posts and giving Tsvangirai only token cabinet posts. A similar "compromise" with Joshua Nkomo 20 years ago led not to cooperation but to the demise of the opposition.

Tsvangirai is right not to let Mugabe keep the police and military. Doing so would allow Mugabe to terrorize people at will while telling the world Zimbabwe's government is "elected" and so it should be respected.

Nancy Reyes
Gapan City, Philippines

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