Airport Authority Offers Federal Workers Free Lunches During Government Shutdown

Cornelia Mascio
Gennaio 12, 2019

A union that represents thousands of US air traffic controllers filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Friday claiming its failure to pay the workers during an ongoing partial government shutdown could endanger the safety of passengers.

TSA has downplayed reports that a rise in airport screeners calling out sick - or even quitting their jobs - has led to long lines at security.

As "essential" federal employees, TSA agents have been showing up for work without payment for almost a month at one of the lowest paying and most thankless jobs in the airport industry, according to Money.

The lawsuit is at least the third filed by a union on behalf of federal employees who have not been paid during the shutdown, which began December 22.

Among the problems Thomas foresaw if the government didn't reopen soon was increased wait times for travelers.

Aviation unions, airport and airline officials and lawmakers will hold a rally on Thursday outside Congress urging an end to the shutdown. There are 51,000 airport security officers, and he said the agency has brought on hundreds of new ones. It screened 1.73 million passengers and 99.9 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes, the TSA said.

"Yesterday, Jan 9, 2019, TSA experienced a rate of 5 per cent compared to a 3.6 per cent unscheduled absence rate one year ago on Jan 9, 2018", it said, lauding "the more than 51,000 officers across the country (who) remain focused on the mission".

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said the organisation was hiring officers and working on contingency plans in case the shutdown lasted beyond today, when officers would miss their first pay cheques since the shutdown began on Dec 22.

"TSA officers are among the lowest paid federal employees, with many living paycheck-to-paycheck", Thompson wrote.

As the federal government shutdown continues through its third week, airport workers are getting hit hard as they are expected to work without a paycheck.

The air traffic controllers are also organizing a leafleting effort appealing directly to passengers at airports across the country, including in Dallas Atlanta, Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well as at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a union official said.

If a significant number of controllers missed work, the Federal Aviation Administration could be forced to extend the amount of time between takeoffs and landings, which could delay travel, it said.

The FAA closed its training academy in Oklahoma City for new air traffic controller hires.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said controllers often must work overtime and six-day weeks at short-staffed locations.

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