TSA Officials Call Out Sick While Government Shutdown And Paychecks Are Frozen
By: Eboni Walker
The government shutdown has affected many federal programs, businesses, people and families within the last three weeks.
But some people are not accepting the non-pay stipulations that the government is dishing out during the partial shutdown. Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officials have begun to call in sick from work within the last week due to them not receiving paychecks.
According to CNN, the issue has been reported from at least four major airports.
New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport has seen as many at 170 TSA agents call in each day last week. At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport call outs have reportedly increased by 200% – 300%. According to CNN, the Dallas airport only sees typically 25 to 30 agents calling out on an average shift.
The media outlet also reported two North Carolina airports, including Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, “have experienced 10% higher TSA callouts.”
Officials believe that the number of workers will only increase as the shutdown continues.
“This problem of call-outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck,” a union official at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport said. “TSA officers are telling the union they will find another way to make money. That means calling out to work other jobs.”
According to Mac Johnson, the North Carolina union president, the number of absent workers “will get worse as this drags on.”
TSA Officials from morning shifts have been forced to work additional hours to cover the hours of missing employees.
The lack of TSA officials showing up to work makes flying less secure.
“This will definitely affect the flying public who we [are] sworn to protect,” Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, said to CNN.
A TSA spokesperson, Michael Bilello said the agency is “closely monitoring the situation and screening wait times remain well within TSA standards,” although that could change if the number of call-outs increases.”
CNN reported, “There are 55,000 TSA employees that screen around 800 million passengers a year.” Therefore, these individuals are included in the 420,000 federal workers who are expected to continue working without pay.
“Callouts began over the Holiday period and have increased, but are causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process,” Bilello said in a statement. “Security effectiveness will not be compromised, and performance standards will not change.”
While wait times for screenings have not yet been affected, it is expected to rise in upcoming weeks. The TSA agency says they are very grateful for the agents who have continued to show up to work.
“Wait times may be affected depending on the number of call-outs,” Bilello said. “TSA is 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.”
TSA released a statement on Twitter addressing their number of travelers in the midst of their issues.
“Nationwide, TSA screened approximately 2.22 million passengers yesterday (Sunday), a historically busy day due to holiday travel. 99.8% of passengers waited less than 30 minutes; 90.1% of passengers less than 15 minutes. In TSA Pre-Check lanes, passengers on average waited less than five minutes. We are grateful to the more than 51,000 agents across the country who remain focused on the mission and are respectful to the traveling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation’s transportation systems.”
TSA said that their agents have never gone without getting paid.
“We’ve never had a situation where officers did not get paid,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told reporters days before the shutdown began.
He continued: “of a duration that it doesn’t result in a delay in pay.”
Thousands and thousands of employees are affected by the shutdown, as well as many government programs. These programs consist of the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Along with, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, National Parks, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury, and NASA.
By: Eboni Walker | Instagram: EboniMWA | Twitter: EbonimWalker
Source: NBC News