Airports Brace for Safety Issues As TSA Employees React to Government Shutdown

Virginia Carson
January 14, 2019

"They stressing. They are looking for other work".

The Airport Authority has joined with Bruegger's Bagels to provide bagged lunches that include a sandwich, chips, cookie and drink on all shifts for workers including TSA agents and FAA air traffic controllers who are essential to airport safety and security and to keeping operations running smoothly 24/7 at Pittsburgh International and Allegheny County Airport (AGC) in West Mifflin.

An airport spokesperson says Concourse G, located in one of the airport's terminals, was closed to the public at 1PM ET Saturday.

The shutdown began on December 22 and many Americans are now dealing with the reality of not receiving government benefits such as SNAP or their federal income tax returns until after February if this shutdown should continue.

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) filed a lawsuit on Friday, accusing the White House of depriving their members "of their hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process".

Airlines need Federal Aviation Administration inspectors' approval to debut new aircraft. "They're erring on the side of caution". Their work is not getting done, he said. He declined to say how many inspectors are working, but union officials believe it's about 100.

Carl said ongoing investigations have been put on hold by the shutdown. "Many of our officers do work paycheck-to-paycheck, and many of our officers are single parents".

"Security standards have NOT and will NOT be compromised", tweeted TSA spokesman Michael Bilello.

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Agents are reportedly staging "sickouts" - calling in sick in a silent protest at their situation. "I think we all can agree that this is an issue that needs to be fixed quickly". Airports in San Francisco and Kansas City already do that, with approval from the Transportation Department.

"As a precautionary measure due to uncertainties created by the lapse in federal government funding, some passengers at Miami International Airport may experience changes to their security checkpoint and departure gate this weekend", the airport announced on its website. Most dropped the idea after TSA's performance improved.

The FAA and the U.S. Department of Justice, which defends the federal government in court, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Five inches of snow in New Jersey and ice-covered roads as far south as North Carolina made for risky driving conditions in other parts of the country. "We're still advising people an hour or 90 minutes is probably best here, but in those larger airports at least give yourself a couple hours from when you check in to being able to get through the checkpoint".

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