TSA Calls Out Sick As Government Shutdown Continues, Causing Safety Concerns
By Sharelle Burt
The new government shutdown is putting a damper on traveling safely since the ones in charge of safety aren’t coming to work.
Hundreds of TSA agents have been calling out sick from four major airports as they aren’t getting paid to work. A combined 13,000 support workers and air traffic controllers continue to work without pay. Planes have not been inspected going on two weeks but are still flying on the regular.
“This will definitely affect the flying public who we are sworn to protect,” president of the national TSA employee union Hydrick Thomas said.
“We are another layer of safety,” safety inspector Troy Tomey said. “We’re the last check of the box. Taking us out of it, mistakes can happen.”
The shutdown has been going on for close to 14 days, starting three days before Christmas. It could go on for months if Congress and the President do not agree on terms of the requested $5 billion border wall.
Some of the airports experiencing high volume callouts are Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, increasing by 300 percent. North Carolina airports like Charlotte Douglas and Raleigh-Durham found the number of workers calling out has grown by ten percent.
“This problem of call-outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck,” Dallas-Fort Worth union official said. Mac Johnson, the local union president in North Carolina said: “That number will get worse as this drags on.”
Not getting paid isn’t the only reason callouts have gone up. While it’s definitely one of the main reasons, union officials say practical reasons like no longer being able to afford childcare are also a concern. Another reason is government employees are finding cash-paying jobs outside of government work in order to for their everyday needs.
Union leaders at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association are encouraging members to call their Congress reps asking to end the shutdown.