Ab­sences among U.S. air­port screen­ers jump as shut­down drags on

Stabroek News - - World News -

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - Un­sched­uled ab­sences among fed­eral air­port se­cu­rity screen­ers jumped yes­ter­day, forc­ing a check­point and ticket counter to close in Hous­ton, as a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down that has frozen pay checks moved into its 23rd day.

The Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion (TSA), the agency re­spon­si­ble for air­port se­cu­rity screen­ing, said un­sched­uled ab­sences among its em­ploy­ees rose to 7.7 per­cent from 5.6 per­cent on Satur­day. That is more than dou­ble the 3.2 per­cent rate ex­pe­ri­enced a year ago.

The TSA said in a state­ment on Sun­day that se­cu­rity had not been com­pro­mised at U.S. air­ports.

But screener staffing short­ages forced Ge­orge Bush In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Air­port to shut down a se­cu­rity check­point and tick­et­ing counter in Ter­mi­nal B on Sun­day af­ter­noon, the air­port said in a state­ment.

“Pas­sen­gers are en­cour­aged to ar­rive early and give them­selves ex­tra time to check in for their flights and to clear the se­cu­rity check­points,” the air­port said.

The ticket counter and se­cu­rity check­point were ex­pected to re­main closed for the re­main­der of the day.

Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Air­port said it planned to re­open Con­course G on Mon­day. The con­course was closed for part of the week­end be­cause not enough TSA work­ers were present to staff the se­cu­rity check­point.

The screen­ers are among the low­est­paid fed­eral em­ploy­ees. While they will be paid once the shut­down ends, many say they will strug­gle to pay bills in the mean­time.

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