Expect Tougher Air Travel as Government Shutdown Drags On: TSA Union Rep

Roman Schwartz
January 12, 2019

Screeners start around $24,000 a year, and most earn between $26,000 and $35,000, according to TSA.

Miami International spokesman Greg Chin said the airport has had TSA workers call in sick at twice the usual rate, and TSA managers were unsure whether they would have enough staff to operate the airport's 11 checkpoints during normal operating hours.

Employees with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) walk through Reagan National Airport in Washington.

The AFGE Local 554 held a rally in front of the Domestic North Terminal of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Thursday afternoon.

The terminal is expected to open Sunday and Monday for morning flights before closing again in the afternoons, Chin said.

"We demand the highest safety and security standards for our transportation network, and rightfully so", Willis said.

The lawsuit is at least the third filed by a union on behalf of federal employees who have not been paid during the shutdown, which began December 22.

Union President Paul Rinaldi says there is already a shortage of controllers, and if current controllers decide to retire - about 1,900 are eligible - the government could be forced to restrict air traffic, creating flight delays. 'They're erring on the side of caution'.

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CTA spokesman Brian Steele said day-to-day operations at the agency are not affected, but it is not getting federal grant funding to pay for ongoing expenses for construction projects. "That's obviously where it becomes more hard", he said.

The stress is already taking a toll at some airports.

Lines at the nation's airports have been normal, Bilello said. Should more TSA workers call in sick, the county-owned airport is ready for more checkpoint closures.

"TSA officers are among the lowest paid federal employees, with many living paycheck-to-paycheck", Thompson wrote.

TSA said that on Tuesday it screened 1.73 million passengers and 99.9 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes.

"This is an impossible situation, and it's absolutely irresponsible", Shalala said during a press conference at MIA with fellow South Florida Democratic representatives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and unions representing aviation and airport workers.

TSA screeners, who are considered to be essential, have been working without pay since a partial federal government shutdown began on December 22.

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