News, Trump Administration

Local TSA employee on working without pay during shutdown: “We can’t keep doing this”

As the federal government shutdown plods through its third week thanks to Republican demands that Democrats agree to fund President Trump’s border wall scheme, its impacts are starting to have real and serious impacts here in North Carolina.

Take, for instance, the issue of airport security. A veteran Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer who works at a North Carolina airport told Policy Watch today that the point in time at which some TSA employees will need to start looking for new jobs or, at the least, applying for unemployment insurance and/or emergency loans is fast approaching.

“We can’t keep doing this” said the officer, who asked not to be identified in order to avoid any possibility of retribution.

The employee said that while many TSA supervisors have been furloughed, he and other front line workers find themselves in a situation in which all leave has been cancelled and prospects for getting paid for the work they’ve done in recent weeks seem remote, at best.

A potentially devastating hit to the worker and his colleagues will take place this coming Saturday, January 12, he said. That’s when the employees would ordinarily see the first paycheck of the year hit their bank accounts via direct deposit.

And while some workers — especially those with other sources of household income — may be able to make do for a while longer, that won’t be the case if the shutdown continues (As Trump has indicated it might). The TSA employee said that if workers miss a second paycheck later in the month, many will have trouble making February 1 rent and mortgage payments. “This has gotta end pretty soon,” he said.

In addition to the immediate hardship the shutdown is inflicting on TSA employees, there may be another, longer-lasting negative impacts from the shutdown according to the employee — namely, overall TSA staffing and effectiveness. The employee related that the hiring process at TSA can, understandably, take an extended period.

“It took me a year to get hired,” the employee noted thanks, at least in part, to the intense background checks and physical examinations to which TSA security applicants are subjected. With hiring being coordinated by outside private contractors that, in some instances, already confronted sizable backlogs even prior to the shutdown, the employee observed, the prospect of hiring replacements for TSA employee who resign to seek employment elsewhere could be make for some significant staffing problems going forward.

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