- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees have been forced to work without pay during the government shutdown.
- Large numbers of TSA workers have called out from work at major airports around the country.
- The TSA union president said it’s because the workers simply can’t afford to get to work.
- The mean annual wage for TSA employees was about $US40,960, or $US19.69 per hour, as of May 2017, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.
- According to a TSA spokesperson, the agency’s screeners have not missed a paycheck.
With the US federal government shutdown, employees at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have been forced to work without pay.
Now, large numbers of TSA screeners have called out from work at major airports around the country.
For example, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the fourth busiest airport in the US, usually sees 25 to 30 employees call out from a given shift, CNN reported. Since the shutdown, a local TSA official told the publication that the call out rate has increased 200% to 300%.
According to the TSA workers union, its members are not staging a strike or any form of organised labour event. Instead, it’s a simple matter of economics.
“TSA employees aren’t calling out intentionally,” union president Hydrick Thomas told Business Insider. “They are calling out because they don’t have the funds to make it work.”
“TSA workers aren’t highly paid very much, they live paycheck to paycheck and they depend on that paycheck at the end of the month,” Thomas added.
The mean annual wage for TSA employees was about $US40,960, or $US19.69 per hour, as of May 2017, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.
The US federal government has been shut down since December 22.
In a statement to Business Insider, the TSA said:
“TSA is closely monitoring the situation. Call outs began over the Holiday period and have increased, but are causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process. Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change. Wait times may be affected depending on the number of call outs. To date, however, screening wait times remain well within TSA standards. Yesterday, TSA screened over 2.2 million passengers. Overall, 99.8% waited less than 30 minutes. TSA is grateful to the agents who show up to work, remain focused on the mission and respectful to the travelling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation’s transportation systems.”
A TSA spokesperson told Business Insider that the agency’s screeners have not yet missed a paycheck. The spokesperson went on to say that should the shutdown end by the middle of next week, their next paycheck on January 11th will also be processed on time.
On Wednesday, the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to end the shutdown. The union, which represents 61,000 pilots flying for airlines such as Delta, United, JetBlue, and Alaska Air, is concerned that the lack of air-traffic controllers, industry regulators, and security staff working during the shutdown will compromise the “safety, security, and efficiency of our national airspace system.”
In addition, ALPA echoed Thomas’ concern that a prolonged shutdown will cause financial harm to personnel who are working without pay.
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