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

And Bilello disputed reports that more than 150 TSA agents called out sick at JFK International Airport in NY. He says so far they have no missed a paycheck.

The American Federation of Government Employees is suing to force the federal government to pay them during the shutdown.

"This is our third shutdown in a year", Bilello said, "so we have some experience and we take it one day at a time".

TSA screeners now working at airports across the country are doing so without collecting a paycheck, thanks to the government shutdown.

The government shutdown affects only some agencies and departments, including Homeland Security, for whom budget appropriations bills weren't enacted in 2018.

In a story published earlier Friday, CNN reported that TSA officers, who are now required to work without paychecks through the shutdown, have been calling out from work this week from at least four major airports.

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The Transportation Security Administration said in a Friday tweet that call outs that began over the holiday period are on the rise but the impact has been "minimal". "This will be the first time that a lot of these folks who've worked, will not have a paycheck and many people don't react until that happens", said Leigh Purdum, a transportation security officer at CHO.

Jonathan Dean at BWI said there has been no increase in waiting times at TSA checkpoints.

Union officials stress that the absences are not part of an organized action, but believe the number of people calling out will likely increase. Traditionally, after a government shutdown, those essential workers have recouped their pay. "We continue to closely monitor the situation and to work with our TSA counterparts".

The shutdown continues as President Donald Trump and Congress are unable to reach an agreement. "If you're not seeing long wait times at airports, there's something on the security side they're not doing". According to CNN, "hundreds of TSA screeners" have called in sick, including at four major airports. Yesterday, TSA screened over 2.2 million passengers.

Those officials say the potential options airports may use include fewer random pat down security checks on passengers, or giving passengers who have not been vetted for the PreCheck program an expedited screening. For security reasons, the agency doesn't release specific staffing numbers. The report ends with the admittance that there have been "no indications that any of these measures have been necessary or implemented".

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