Shutdown Continues and TSA Call Offs Increase. Safety Concerns Rise
The government shutdown is causing an increase in sick days for Transportation Security Administration employees. The shutdown is in its third week, and tens of thousands of TSA agents are among federal employees who are working without pay.
FAA safety inspectors, who are furloughed, say safety risks for travelers increase every day. FAA inspectors say there are heightened risk of aviation accidents because of their absence.
The mass call outs could inevitably mean air travel is less secure, especially as the shutdown enters its third week with no clear end to the political stalemate in sight. "This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect," Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, told CNN.
Airports that are experiencing high call outs are Dallas-Fort Worth International, New York’s John F Kennedy International airport, and North Carolina airports, including Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. The numbers will increase as the shutdown continues.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske states they’ve never had a time when officers did not get paid. TSA is bracing for more call outs next week according to veteran field officials. Officials say airports may reduce the number of random pat-downs security checks on passengers and the number of open lanes may be cut.
Union leaders at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association are telling their members to call their Congress reps and request the shutdown end.