The partial shutdown of the United States government has entered its 17th day. There does not seem to be an end in sight as both sides have different opinions on funding for a southern border wall. The president has stated that he will declare a national emergency to secure funding for the wall. The ripple effect caused by the shutdown has meant that thousands of government workers have essentially been working for “free” (back pay usually occurs when the government reopens). One agency, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has had to deal with hundreds of employees calling in sick over the past two weeks.
The call outs are happening at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport, and Raleigh-Durham International Airport, to name a few. If this trend continues, it will lead to longer screening wait times, which means flyers will have to arrive at the airport earlier. Screening times are currently within TSA standards, according to a TSA spokesman. The TSA employees who choose to show up have to work extended hours to cover for the absent workers. The extra hours could make air travel less secure as workers begin to experience fatigue or burn out.
Administration officials believe that the call outs will increase over the next few weeks as employees begin to miss paychecks. Some of the employees have stated that they cannot work without a paycheck so they have found other work to pay the bills.
This a tough situation for the TSA and the public as a whole. I understand why employees are calling out. The bills do not stop because they are not receiving a paycheck. On the other hand, I understand why the other employees continue to show up at work. Security screening is necessary at all airports, but at what cost? Longer lines? Less passenger scrutiny? While I have had issues with TSA in the past, they are necessary and needed at all airports. The safety and security of the skies is critical. I hope that a resolution to border wall situation occurs soon.