airport by Julia Sarantis January 14, 2019
The government shutdown has now become the longest in US history and has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers unpaid and government offices closed.
With no end in sight to the partial government shutdown, as the President has stated he is willing to keep the government shutdown for months and even years, industry officials are worried that federal workers will be forced to find paying jobs elsewhere, leading to major staffing shortages.
Though the President on Monday appeared to rule out declaring a national emergency to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which he demanded Democrats must negotiate the funding for. Of course, Trump has directed blame for the government shutdown at the Democrat Party, despite his earlier statements in which he claimed he would be proud to shut the government down.
As the President continues to throw a tantrum over his wall, thousands of federal employees have to go to work knowing they will not receive paychecks.
The nation’s 51,000 airport security agents — which include employees that are responsible for screening passengers and scanning bags in airport security checkpoints — are among the federal employees who have been ordered to work without pay. In addition, air-traffic controllers are also working without pay.
Not surprisingly, the partial government shutdown is starting to affect air travel.
Not only are there massive delays everywhere but airports around the nation have had to close security checkpoints due to a shortage of TSA staff and not enough agents able to operate all of the airport’s checkpoints.
Due to TSA agent absences, Miami International Airport will temporarily close off a terminal concourse early for three days. A spokesperson for the airport, Greg Chin, described that federal screeners have been calling in sick at double the normal rate.
As the shutdown enters its 24th day, the Transportation Security Administration announced that a man traveling from Atlanta to Japan earlier this month was able to carry a gun through a security checkpoint and onto a Delta Air Lines flight.
Delta Air Lines official explained that the man alerted airline workers once he arrived at Tokyo Narita International Airport, who subsequently told the TSA, Delta Air Lines said. According to the TSA, the passenger had forgotten the firearm was in their carry-on luggage.
This security breach has come two weeks into the government shutdown. Trade union officials warn that the shutdown’s impact could become more pronounced over time.
While TSA has said the partial government shutdown is not responsible for the breach, citing that the security breach was due to “standard procedures” not being followed.
Nonetheless, the shutdown has affected the staffing of various airports around the nation. Hydrick Thomas, president of the T.S.A. Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, said this week that “extreme financial hardship” had driven some of his members to resign and many others to consider following suit.
Dear @TSA employees who have been working since the shutdown: thank you not only for your professionalism and commitment during rough and tough and unfair circumstances but for your grace and friendliness – I appreciate you.
— Amy Trask (@AmyTrask) January 13, 2019
With TSA agents earn about $35,000 a year, on average, many federal employees are struggling to get by. In speaking to the New York Times, a 29-year-old man who works for the T.S.A. at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago said,
“It’s difficult to budget things like food, or knowing which bills to pay, when you simply don’t know when you’ll have money again.”
A 37-year-old woman and screener at Los Angeles International Airport told the New York Times,
“It is getting harder to come every day and know that you’re not getting paid, but it’s my job, and I knew when I started this job that this was potentially going to happen.”
TSA agents and correction officers around the country have expressed their increasing anxiety about their financial instability and insecurity.
Evidently and justifiably, morale is low for these workers amid the shutdown.