Seattle's TSA officers on verge of quitting over lack of pay

AFP  Getty Images

AFP Getty Images

Checkpoint operations performed by Transportation Security Administration officers were called "routine" Saturday at BWI Marshall Airport. TSA employees fall in the latter category because they are considered essential.

However, the local union president said that may not last.

TSA issued a statement in response to CNN's report: "Call outs began over the Holiday period and have increased, but are causing minimum impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process".

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials played down concerns the government shutdown poses a threat to safety at major airports, but warned that the second half of next week could be crucial if workers do not get paid. To date, however, screening wait times remain well within TSA standards.

It is unclear how many agents are missing their shift at BWI because they say they're too sick to work - or how that number compares to a normal period. Remaining workers have had to work extra hours to cover the gaps, according to CNN.

However, "Wait times may be affected depending on the number of call outs", Bilello said.

Meanwhile, the TSA said in a statement "security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change" during the shutdown. About 800,000 workers now receive no pay, and roughly 420,000 are required to report for work without pay with the same repercussions for absenteeism as if they were being paid.

According to a report from CNN, as many as 170 employees called of sick from New Works John K. Kennedy International Airport.

TSA previously has said officers will eventually be compensated. Reportedly, during an average shift, typically only 25 to 30 TSA employees call out at DFW. But that's not to say the results of this so-called "Blue Flu" haven't been devastating.

The shutdown impasse centers around more than $5 billion President Donald Trump wants to fund a physical wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

With a 4 percent increase in air passengers over the past few years, CNN reported that a veteran TSA official warned it may not all be positive if lines aren't getting longer. He said the growth "without commensurate increases in the size of our Transportation Security Officer workforce ... has impacted both training and morale". Yesterday, TSA screened over 2.2 million passengers. "If you're not seeing long wait times at airports, there's something on the security side they're not doing".

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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