Airports Nervous About TSA Absences If Shutdown Continues

Irving Hamilton
January 9, 2019

Airline pilots have appealed to President Trump to end the partial USA government shutdown as hundreds of security screening staff call in sick rather than work without pay.

About 5.5 percent of its TSA workers called in sick on Friday, as a post-holiday influx of passengers crowded the airport.

Union officials have warned the shutdown places TSA officers in a hard position, as they are not receiving paychecks to cover the costs of working, such as commuting and childcare.

A passenger is seen going through security at Los Angeles International Airport on January 8, 2019.

According to media reports from various cities, TSA which is responsible for operating security checkpoints at airports across the country was suffering from staffing shortages because of the government shutdown.

The emails CNN obtained show Martin Elam, the deputy federal security director for five California airports, warning employees that they may be punished for calling out.

A Transportation Security Agency agent checks the identification of travelers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va., Jan. 7, 2019.

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"Your unauthorized unscheduled absence will be coded by payroll as absent without leave (AWOL)", Elam wrote. But one TSA worker said off-camera there were mixed feelings on the situation, with some considering looking for another job as they struggle to make ends meet.

17 days in to a partial government shutdown, there's no end in sight, and now many federal employees are out of work, with those deemed as "essential employees" now being asked to work for the promise of paycheck when the government reopens. Why are we doing this?

"If it's the wall you're concerned about and not your federal employees, some of us live paycheck to paycheck, and the TSA is already one of the lowest paid federal agencies", Juan Casarez, a TSA officer and president of his local union chapter, told Money.

At Los Angeles International Airport, travelers told KTLA that security didn't seem to take any longer than usual.

But concerns about the number of callouts in Palm Springs have reached the point that security operations may be impacted and employees may be disciplined for missed shifts - potential further hardship for those already going without a paycheck. They will not be getting paid during the furlough. "I'm not going to be able to pay my mortgage".

He added, "They just want a roof over their head, and heat in the winter, and food on their table. they want to provide for their families".

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