More checkpoint closures likely as workers can’t afford to work without pay
The Transportation Security Administration has sent extra staff to airports in major cities as it faces its highest level of absences since the partial government shutdown began last month.
The agency’s unscheduled absence rate climbed to 8% Saturday, up from 3% a year earlier and 7% on Friday. Baltimore/Washington International Airport became the latest major airport to have staffing trouble. It is closing a checkpoint due to “excessive callouts” by TSA workers, the TSA said.
TSA employees, who are responsible for screening passengers and scanning bags, are among the 420,000 essential federal workers still working but not receiving paychecks while the government is shut down. TSA employees missed their first paycheck just over a week ago, and the agency has said workers are reporting that they are unable to continue coming in to work as financial pressures mount.
The TSA has sent extra staff to airports in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami and Atlanta, where the problem has been most acute, spokesman Michael Bilello said. But more checkpoint closures are likely as TSA strains to keep up — it has already tapped the established pool of workers who can be shifted around the country and has been adding more workers who can be sent as reinforcements.