With no imminent cessation to the government shutdown in sight, CNN reports that mass call outs or sick-outs by TSA agents are on the increase. According to authorities, “hundreds” of TSA agents have been absent from duties at “at least” four separate airports around the nation during the shutdown.
As the government shutdown continues, CNN reports that mass call outs by agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are on the increase. The outlet reports that, according to authorities, “hundreds” of TSA agents have been absent from their duties at “at least” four separate airports.
The concern is that these call outs or sick-outs could pose a risk to the security of air travel across the nation. Hydrick Thomas, the president of the national TSA employee union, was quoted by the outlet as stating that, “This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect.”
Meanwhile, Michael Bilello, spokesman for the TSA, confirmed that the agency is “closely monitoring the situation”. He added that, at present, “screening wait times remain well within TSA standards”.
The outlet reports that, at both John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), call outs have increased dramatically in recent days. At JFK, it is reported that 170 agents called out every day during the course of last week and at DFW, call outs have increased between 200 and 300 percent.
It is reported that while pay is a sticking point for agents, many are also reportedly having to seek additional paid employment in order to pay bills during the course of the shutdown, which requires employees to work without pay.
“About a quarter of the government, including TSA and the Department of Homeland Security, have been without funding since December 22. Some 55,000 TSA employees who screen around 800 million passengers a year are considered essential and are among the 420,000 federal workers expected to continue working without pay,” reports CNN.
With no imminent end to the shutdown, it remains to be seen how the TSA will cope with these decreased staffing levels. Offering their insight, one senior TSA official was quoted as saying that, “If you’re not seeing long wait times at airports, there’s something on the security side they’re not doing.”