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TSA union urges US Congress to end ‘unacceptable’ shutdown

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The union that represents 44,000 US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers on Jan. 8 called on Congress and the White House to end the ongoing federal government shutdown, citing “extreme financial hardships” facing officers working without pay and “massive security risk” if they stop showing up to work.

“It is completely unacceptable that the women and men who risk their lives safeguarding our airports are still required to report for work without knowing when they’ll be paid again,” American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) national president J. David Cox Sr. said.

“TSA officers already have the least amount of rights of any federal officer, some of the lowest pay and highest attrition rates in government, and among the lowest morale of any federal agency. Working for weeks on end without being compensated—while already being short-staffed—only makes their situation worse.”

House Homeland Security Committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) on Jan. 7 wrote a letter to TSA administrator David Pekoske requesting information about how the agency is handling the shutdown, including what kind of resources TSA is providing employees and whether it has contingency plans to address the increased number of simultaneous employee call-outs and resignations.

“The fact that the overwhelming majority of officers have reported for duty without fail in the face of such challenges is a testament to their dedication to service,” Thompson said. “Still, it is only reasonable to expect officer call outs and resignations to increase the longer the shutdown lasts, since no employee can be expected to work indefinitely without pay.”

The Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) said in a statement that some airports have reported increased wait times because of a higher number of TSA officer sick calls—a situation that could get worse if officers begin seeking other means of employment.

ACI-NA SVP-security Christopher Bidwell suggested Congress eliminate the diversion of part of the 9/11 Passenger Security Fee as a means to provide immediate funding for the agency. The fee is intended to fund security operations including salary and benefits for officers, but $1.36 billion—or about one-third of the fee collections this year—was directed to non-aviation security functions.

 

Source: atw

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