Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

TSA Screeners Working Without Pay During Government Shutdown Calling Out Sick

TSA Screeners Working Without Pay During Government Shutdown Calling Out Sick

TSA employees are among thousands of essential government workers required to remain on the job without pay during the partial shutdown, which began December 22.

Hundreds of TSA officers - who have been required to work without pay since the shutdown began December 22 - have called out sick in recent days, according to national reports.

At Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International, the wait time was slightly longer than in NY but still within TSA standards.

TSA union officials claim the call-ins are not an organized protest, explaining workers are calling out to work at second jobs as the shutdown begins to bite.

How did the DHS respond?

"A prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports, as Transportation Security Officers seek other employment", said Christopher Bidwell, senior vice-president for security.

As of Saturday morning, the maximum TSA wait time was 36 minutes, and the maximum PreCheck wait time was 17 minutes, both within TSA standards of 45 and 15 minutes, respectively.

The Department of Homeland Security is pushing back against a CNN report that claimed Transportation Security Administration agents have staged a "sick out" - and thereby potentially compromising airport security - because they are required to work during the partial government shutdown, despite not being paid.

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Other airport employees called the situation unmanageable and said frantic passengers were left crying in line.

Numerous employees are forced to call out because they can no longer afford childcare without a paycheck, or need to use the time they would be working for the TSA to earn money they can use to pay rent or other living expenses. "That number will get worse as this drags on".

The statement said TSA is "closely monitoring the situation" and "grateful to the agents who show up to work, remain focused on the mission and respectful to the traveling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation's transportation systems".

North Carolina airports, including Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, have experienced 10% higher TSA call outs, according to Mac Johnson, the local union president.

In absence of a path forward, the shutdown could become the longest in American history, surpassing the previous record of 21 days in the '90s, under President Bill Clinton and a Republican-led Congress, according to CNN. A shutdown could last months or even years, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer quoted Trump as saying.

But call-outs are expected to only increase the longer the shutdown continues, causing the agency to bridge the gap through either long lines or less screening.

About 51,000 TSA employees who screen passengers are considered essential. "If you're not seeing long wait times at airports, there's something on the security side they're not doing".

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