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Why scores of TSA workers are calling in sick during government shutdown

Why scores of TSA workers are calling in sick during government shutdown

United States transportation security officials have played down concerns that the government shutdown poses a threat to safety at major airports, but warned that the second half of next week could be crucial if workers do not get paid.

Kennedy Airport, as many as 170 TSA employees have called off sick each day this week, according to CNN. Officers from a morning shift were required to work extra hours to cover the gaps.

In a tweet, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton accused the network of failing to validate its data and not reaching out to agency officials for verification.

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Transportation security administration officers at the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO) have not been paid since December 26, 2018.

With many travelers expecting delays due to the shutdown, TSA did add a disclaimer that wait times will be affected depending on the number of call outs. The number of people calling out sick have increased by 200 percent to 300 percent at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. However, others are simply parents struggling to feed their families who have found temporary alternative ways to earn, or who have been forced to stay home because they can't afford to pay for child care costs since they've been told to work unpaid. "They're not saying, 'We're going to shut things down.' They are the lowest-paid employees in the federal government, and they don't have the money to get to work".

North Carolina airports, including Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, have experienced 10% higher TSA call outs, according to Mac Johnson, the local union president. "We continue to closely monitor the situation and to work with our TSA counterparts". "A prolonged government shutdown could potentially impact security and wait times at airports, as transportation security officers seek other employment", said Mr Christopher Bidwell, senior vice-president for security.

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Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman for the Baltimore area, said she is on furlough until further notice as a non-essential employee.

The president is meeting with a group this weekend he assembled to tackle the issue and hopefully find a solution. "If you're not seeing long wait times at airports, there's something on the security side they're not doing". Yesterday, TSA screened over 2.2 million passengers, ' the statement continued.

CNN said the mass call outs could lead to less secure air travel as the shutdown continues into its second week with no clear end in sight.

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For security reasons, the agency does not release specific staffing numbers.