TSA Employees Protest Government Shutdown Outside Atlanta Airport

TSA officer Mike Gayzagian

This week, the government shutdown had begun to impact travel as TSA agents and air traffic controllers continue to work without promise of pay and FAA inspectors remain on furlough.

Employees with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) walk through Reagan National Airport in Washington.

On Wednesday, the 19th day of a partial government shutdown caused by a dispute over funding that President Donald Trump wants for a border wall, he stormed out of talks with Democratic congressional leaders, complaining the meeting was "a total waste of time".

As the government shutdown approaches the milestone of becoming the longest in history, Transportation Security Agency employees are feeling the strain ー and soon, so will travelers, Joe Shuker, a TSA union representative, told Cheddar. TSA said only about 220,000 travelers waited at least 15 minutes at checkpoints, while 0.2 percent - fewer than 5,000 - waited at least 30 minutes.

Unions will hold a rally on Thursday on Capitol Hill urging an end to the shutdown.

Bilello said there had been no spike in employees quitting and that on Tuesday, 5 percent of officers took unscheduled leave, up just slightly from 3.9 percent the same day a year ago. It's all raising serious questions about staffing and safety.

"TSA officers are among the lowest paid federal employees, with many living paycheck-to-paycheck", Thompson wrote.

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Although the shutdown began on December 22, TSA employees still received paychecks on December 28.

TSA's union says they have workers already resigning over the shut down, as airports nationwide say they're anxious about baggage screening absences if the shutdown continues. "In order to maintain the right level of staffing, it's critical to have a continuous process of recruiting, training and getting new officers to our nation's airports", Bilello said.

The air traffic controllers are also organizing a leafleting effort appealing directly to passengers at airports across the country, including in Dallas Atlanta, Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well as at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a union official said.

If a significant number of controllers missed work, the Federal Aviation Administration could be forced to extend separation requirements, amount of time between takeoffs and landings, which could delay travel.

"Each day, the FAA's Air Traffic Controllers", the lawsuit says, "are responsible for ensuring the safe routing of tens of thousands of flights, often working lengthy, grueling overtime shifts to do so".

Federal Aviation Administration Academy in Oklahoma City has been closed as a result of the shutdown and simulator trainings have been disrupted.

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