Hundreds of TSA Workers Call Out Sick Following Government Shutdown


Associated Press

TSA officers screen luggage during partial government shutdown December 31,2018 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington.

Caroline Centeno, Reporter

Following the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018, hundreds of  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees have called in to work sick. Because their jobs are deemed essential, TSA officers are required to work during the shutdown.

Within at least four of the nation’s major airports, hundreds of TSA screeners have called in sick, and the administration has confirmed a nationwide 21% increase in sick-outs following the government shutdown. Currently, over 800,000 government employees are on furlough or working without pay. Among these are some 55,000 members of TSA, which have continuously worked without reimbursement, leading them to increasingly call in sick to find employment elsewhere or stay home, rather than working for free.

While the Department of Homeland Security has stated that “security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick-out,” an increase in missing staff could invariably lead to air travel being much less secure. According to Fox News, this comes after TSA was required to deny claims of a sick-out staged in protest of the ongoing political battle. Mac Johnson, North Carolina local Union President, claims that these call outs are, “creating a vulnerability” due to the reduced security staff.

With no obvious end in sight for what is predicted to be the longest government shutdown in US history, TSA employees are preparing to miss their first paycheck. While Congress has historically awarded back pay to the government officials affected by shutdowns, because there is no legal obligation to do so, TSA officers may never see their restitution.