Published: Sun, January 06, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Hundreds of TSA Screeners Call Out Sick at Major Airports Amid Shutdown

Hundreds of TSA Screeners Call Out Sick at Major Airports Amid Shutdown

"In response, DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton tweeted that their reporting is "#FakeNews", saying, "Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out. "That means calling out to work other jobs".

But on Friday, Houlton attacked CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins for reporting on the sickout.

And while officials say it hasn't affected the quality of security measures, airline travelers may start feeling the burdens of the political showdown between President Donald Trump and lawmakers. About 170 TSA agents have called out each day of this week at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

CNN's Rene Marsh and Greg Wallace spoke with two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials about the sick-outs.

Hundreds of TSA officers - who have been required to work without pay since the shutdown began December 22 - have called out sick in recent days, according to national reports.

Fox reports, "One unnamed federal official said the call-outs seemed to be part of a coordinated protest, but union officials said many employees who called out sick were most likely looking for alternative employment to make up for lost wages".

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Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham airports in North Carolina had a 10 percent increase in absences according to union president Mac Johnson, and numbers across the country were predicted to get worse when employees notice the difference on payday. "To date the [checkpoint] wait times remain within TSA standards".

There are 51,739 members of the Transportation Security Administration's airport security screening workforce, according to TSA spokesman Michael Bilello.

The partial shutdown came after President Trump and Democratic lawmakers failed to reach a funding agreement for the government that included money for a wall along the US-Mexico border. The spokesperson said 99.8% of 2.2 million passengers screened on January 3 waited less than 30 minutes.

Citing "two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials", CNN claimed "hundreds" of TSA agents at four major USA airports participated in a "sick out", a retaliatory measure for being forced to work without pay. Yesterday, TSA screened over 2.2 million passengers. TSA is grateful to the agents who show up to work, remain focused on the mission and respectful to the traveling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation's transportation systems.

Those officials say the potential options airports may use include fewer random pat down security checks on passengers, or giving passengers who have not been vetted for the PreCheck program an expedited screening.

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