National Politics

Hundreds of TSA agents call out from DFW, other airports, as employees work without pay

Air travel may be less safe during the government shutdown, federal inspectors warn

FAA safety inspectors -- who haven’t worked in two weeks because of the government shutdown -- picketed Miami International Airport Thursday. They say safety risks for travelers increase every day they’re off the job.
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FAA safety inspectors -- who haven’t worked in two weeks because of the government shutdown -- picketed Miami International Airport Thursday. They say safety risks for travelers increase every day they’re off the job.

Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration agents are calling out from work at Dallas-Fort Worth and other airports after working without pay because of the partial government shutdown.

According to CNN, calls out from work at DFW Airport have increased by 200 to 300 percent. Typically, 25 to 30 TSA employees call to be off work on an average shift.

“This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect,” Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, told CNN.

Michael Bilello, TSA assistant administrator of public affairs, said the TSA is closely monitoring the situation.

Bilello told the Star-Telegram call outs began over the holiday period and have increased but are causing “minimal impact.”

“Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change,” he said via text message. “TSA is grateful to the agents who show up to work, remain focused on the mission and respectful to the traveling public as they continue the important work necessary to secure the nation’s transportation systems.”

He added wait times may be affected depending on the number of people who call out, but so far, wait times have remained within TSA standards.

Wait times at Dallas-Fort Worth airport have been in line with what the airport has seen in past holiday seasons, said Cynthia Vega, media relations manager at DFW airport.

“TSA staff have gone above and beyond to take care of our customers during the recent peak holiday travel period,” said Kelsey Rae Young, business communications specialist at DFW airport.

Calls to be out are increasing as TSA employees continue to work without pay under the government shutdown. TSA employees are required to work without paychecks during the shutdown.

“This problem of call outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck,” a union official at DFW Airport told CNN. “TSA officers are telling the union they will find another way to make money. That means calling out to work other jobs.”

On Thursday, President Trump said addressed the fact that thousands of federal employees are on furlough during the partial government shutdown, POLITICO reported.

“This really does have a higher purpose than next week’s pay,” Trump said during a news conference.

Democrats proposed a bill that would reopen the quarter of government that is shuttered and continue negotiations over the border wall which Trump wants included in any agreement. Trump and the Senate GOP rejected the proposal, insisting on investments in a border barrier, CNBC reported.

Trump also raised the prospect of a shutdown that could last for months or even years, The New York Times reported.

Trinity Metro decided to delay opening of TEXRail due to the federal shutdown. A section of rail that runs under Spur 280 has not been certified the Federal Railroad Administration.

Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
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