Government shutdown: TSA workers set to miss first paycheck

Government shutdown: TSA workers set to miss first paycheck

"We are grateful to the more than 51,000 agents across the country who remain focused on the mission and are respectful to the traveling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the national's transportation systems", said TSA spokesman Michael Bilello.

Transportation Security Administration agents are calling in sick by the hundreds at several major airports across the country, according to agency and union officials, CNN reported. "At the conclusion of the government shutdown, an employee's AWOL status may result in progressive disciplinary action".

"Some of [my members] have already quit and many are considering quitting the federal workforce because of this shutdown", AFGE TSA Council President Hydrick Thomas said in a statement.

January is generally a slower month for air travel, but the agency has warned that wait times could increase.

The TSA has maintained that security standards and effectiveness will not be compromised during the shutdown.

So far, the airport has not experienced any operational impacts, and no employees were asked to work beyond their normally scheduled hours according to the FAA.

"Your unauthorized unscheduled absence will be coded by payroll as absent without leave (AWOL)", Elam wrote.

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Union officials have warned the shutdown places TSA officers in a hard position, as they are not receiving paychecks to cover the costs of working, such as commuting and childcare.

Jose Rojas, who works at a Federal prison in Central Florida, says he is driving for Uber and Lyft to pay his bills. Typically, about 25 to 30 employees call out on an average shift. With insufficient staff, managers may open fewer security lanes, causing lines to grow longer and move more slowly.

"These lines are already bad enough so I can't imagine this being any good", said frequent traveler Adam Sanders.

But in Chicago, the number of sick calls was normal Monday at Midway and O'Hare airports, union leaders told WBBM-TV.

Though the scores of workers calling in sick aren't actually ill, their coordinated effort has been branded "blue flu", owing to the color of officers' uniforms.

It was not clear if the Palm Springs email was spurred by the discussion in that meeting, or was separate. The airport issued an ATC alert for heightened awareness because of the concerns over staffing levels.

And really, these officers have no choice but to do their jobs as they are considered "essential" government employees, which means they are expected to show up regardless of a shutdown.

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