Over Thanksgiving weekend of 2006, airport screeners in Toronto began meticulously searching every carry-on bag by hand. The delays caused security lines to pile up. Passengers began missing their flights en masse. To break the bottleneck, supervisors allowed 250,000 passengers to board their flights with “minimal or no screening.” One Canadian security expert dryly observed, “If terrorists had known that in those three days that their baggage wasn’t going to be searched, that would have been bad.”

What motivated the screeners to inspect every bag by hand?

Their union was upset with contract negotiations and wanted to pressure management. The delays and missed flights were intentional. The Canadian screeners’ union could and did put its interests over public safety.

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