Friday, 18 January, 2019

Some TSA officers calling in sick

AFP  Getty Images AFP Getty Images
Andrew Cummings | 08 January, 2019, 03:10

The federal agency tasked with guaranteeing USA airport security is acknowledging an increase in the number of its employees calling off work during the partial government shutdown. Remaining workers have had to work extra hours to cover the gaps, according to CNN.

Following previous shutdowns, government employees both required to stay on the job and those furloughed and ordered to not work have received back pay.

"CNN spoke to numerous TSA & union officials & cited data provided by unions for our report", the network said Saturday.

How did the DHS respond?

Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners at airports are considered "essential" employees and are working without pay in the government shutdown that has entered a third week.

Hundreds of TSA officers called out from work this week at some major airports. "A prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports, as transportation security officers seek other employment", said Mr Christopher Bidwell, senior vice-president for security. Over 90 per cent of passengers waited less than 15 minutes, Mr Bilello said. The workers likely will go without their first paycheck this weekend.

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Jonathan Dean, a BWI spokesman, said the airport is "monitoring the situation and working closely with our TSA counterpart".

It acknowledged that callouts started over the holiday season and have increased, but said they are causing minimal impact.

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.

Passengers can also avoid getting stopped with a prohibited item by making sure to check the "Can I Bring My...?" feature on tsa.gov to determine if they can bring an item in a carry-on, a checked bag or if they should leave it at home.

"It's also worth reporting that we are grateful for the more than 51,000 agents across the country who show up to work, 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", he said.

And that will happen if the shutdown continues, a union official from Dallas-Fortworth International Airport told CNN. For security reasons, the agency doesn't release specific staffing numbers.

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