Why scores of TSA workers are calling in sick during government shutdown

Transportation Security Administration officers screening passengers at the Los Angeles International Airport on Jan 5 2019

Transportation Security Administration officers screening passengers at the Los Angeles International Airport on Jan 5 2019

The network reported that "hundreds" of TSA officers have called out at several major airports as the shutdown continues, and the president of the national TSA employee union is quoted as saying "This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect".

Alleging "fake news" had "grossly misrepresented" the figures related to the air travel industry, Tyler Q. Houlton denied that it was creating a vulnerability and less workers strive to do more than usual. The spokesperson said 99.8% of 2.2 million passengers screened on January 3 waited less than 30 minutes.

Sarah Burgisser, who works for one of the airlines, said early Saturday morning passengers were waiting hours to get through security.

People working at the airport tell 7 Action News off camera they have not seen or heard of any call offs from TSA because of the government shutdown at Detroit Metro Airport.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and other federal employees continue to work without paychecks during the current government shutdown, and some appear to be fed up. He said the growth "without commensurate increases in the size of our Transportation Security Officer workforce ... has impacted both training and morale". For instance, the TSA recommends travelers take items out of their pockets and put them in a carry-on bag before they go through security in order to speed things along and make sure nothing gets left behind. However, the local union president said that may not last.

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said traveler "wait times remain well within TSA standards", but admitted that could change if TSA agent absences increase.

Callouts have also increased 200-300 per cent at Dallas-Fort Worth, and are 10% higher at North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte airports, CNN reports. Single parents can no longer afford child care or they are finding cash-paying jobs outside of government work to pay their rent and other bills, for example.

Trump planned to meet with congressional leaders at 11 a.m. Saturday for more negotiations. "@spoxdhs & @realdonaldtrump may not like the truth but that won't stop us from reporting", the news outlet wrote, adding the hashtag "FactsFirst". But federal officials reportedly believe the "blue flu" - TSA uniforms are blue - has all the hallmarks of a coordinated protest against the shutdown. The normal call-in rate is 3.5 per cent, and yesterday it increased to 5.5 per cent, according to TSA. At New York's LaGuardia and JFK airports, travelers can check the security wait times at their gates before they leave for the airport.

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