Se­cu­rity screen­ers call­ing off work

TSA air­port screen­ers ex­pected to work with­out pay dur­ing shut­down

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexan­dra Ol­son and Julie Carr Smyth,

NEW YORK — The fed­eral agency tasked with guar­an­tee­ing U.S. air­port se­cu­rity ac­knowl­edged an in­crease in the num­ber of its em­ploy­ees call­ing off work dur­ing the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down .

Em­ploy­ees of the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion are ex­pected to work with­out pay dur­ing the shut­down be­cause their jobs are con­sid­ered es­sen­tial.

The TSA said in a state­ment Fri­day that call outs that be­gan over the hol­i­day pe­riod have in­creased. The agency did not say how many of its em­ploy­ees have called out, but it said the call outs have had "min­i­mal im­pact given that there are 51,739 em­ploy­ees sup­port­ing the screen­ing process." The state­ment said wait times "may be af­fected" but so far "re­main well within TSA stan­dards."

"TSA is closely mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion," the agency state­ment said. "Se­cu­rity ef­fec­tive­ness will not be com­pro­mised."

The Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pushed back Satur­day on sug­ges­tions that the ab­sences rep­re­sented a "sick­out" that was hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences on U.S. air travel. White House of­fi­cials and con­gres­sional aides were in talks Satur­day to end the shut­down, which en­tered its

15th day. Ne­go­ti­a­tions are at an im­passe over Trump's de­mands for $5.6 bil­lion to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

TSA spokesman

Michael Bilello tweeted that 5.5 per­cent of the TSA workforce at Dal­las/ Fort Worth In­ter­na­tional Air­port called out Fri­day, com­pared with 3.5 per­cent on a nor­mal day.

He said wait times "may be af­fected" but that all pas­sen­gers would be screened as nor­mal.

Hy­drick Thomas, pres­i­dent of the na­tional TSA em­ployee union,

told CNN that up to 170 TSA em­ploy­ees at New York's John F. Kennedy Air­port have called out each day this week.

Air­port of­fi­cials said there no screen­ing de­lays

at JFK, Chicago's O'Hare and Mid­way air­ports, or Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Union of­fi­cials did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment.

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