Hundreds Of TSA Workers Are Calling In Sick During Government Shutdown

by Thea Glassman
Image via Joe_Potato/Getty

TSA workers are calling in sick during the government shutdown because they’re being forced to work for free

The partial government shutdown has entered its second week and we’re already seeing the awful, damaging consequences. Hundreds of TSA officers – who are required to work for free during a shutdown – have been calling in sick at at least four major airports, according to CNN. If this pattern continues, flight safety could be called into question.

The government shutdown shows no signs of ending (in fact, Trump threatened that it could last for “months or even years”). That means that there will likely be more and more TSA officers who won’t come into work (because why should they if they’re not being paid??) “This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect,” Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, told CNN.

170 TSA workers called in sick at John F. Kennedy International Airport this week, forcing the workers who did come in to work extra hours. Meanwhile, in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, sick calls jumped by a whopping 200%-300%.

A union official at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport warned that this issue will only get worse as the shutdown continues, noting that workers will likely start looking for other jobs.

“This problem of call outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck,” the source told CNN. “TSA officers are telling the union they will find another way to make money. That means calling out to work other jobs.”

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello assured the public that airline security “will not be compromised and performance standards will not change.” He claimed that the call outs have caused “minimal impact” – though – if TSA employees continue not to show up to work, he said that airport wait times could increase.

Should this pattern continue and customers don’t have a long wait time, one TSA official warned that could be a sign that airports are skimping on safety measures. “If you’re not seeing long wait times at airports, there’s something on the security side they’re not doing,” the official told CNN.

Here’s hoping this government shutdown ends quickly and cleanly. So many workers are counting on it.