Air visitors controllers' union sues over unpaid work throughout authorities shutdown

TSA officers at Logan Airport

TSA officers at Logan Airport

Airline-industry officials worry that they are particularly likely to stop showing up because their relatively low pay means they could quickly struggle to pay bills without money coming in.

The AP's Tom Namako reported that Miami International Airport has had to close a terminal because security screeners are calling in sick at twice the normal rate during the shutdown.

Agents are reportedly staging "sickouts" - calling in sick in a silent protest at their situation.

The agency acknowledged that unscheduled absences of the 51,000 TSA officers have been on the rise, but said "security standards remain uncompromised at our nation's airports".

"It sucks because if I had a flight arranged for that's gonna really impact my travel plans", said the 35-year-old who was vacationing in Florida with his wife and son.

In a statement released Tuesday, the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the workers, warned that safety could take a big hit in transit hubs as the federal government shutdown drags into week three, leaving staff without pay.

Chin told the newspaper that G is the slowest terminal at Miami Airport and 12 planes typically fly out of G after 1 p.m.

TSA routinely opens and closes screening lanes as volume at airports rises and falls, Bilello said.

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In addition to missing a regular payday, thousands of TSA employees are dealing with winter weather stretching from the Midwest to the East Coast.

NATCA also moved for a court order requiring the government to restore air traffic controllers' pay while the lawsuit is pending.

Union President Paul Rinaldi said there is already a shortage of controllers, and if current controllers decide to retire — about 1,900 are eligible — the government could be forced to restrict air traffic, creating flight delays.

About 10,000 air traffic controllers under the Federal Aviation Administration continue to work without pay.

At New York's LaGuardia Airport, fliers had to wait in almost hour-long security lines on Sunday.

On average, TSA employees make between $25,518 to $38,277 a year and many live paycheck to paycheck. That could led to longer lines at the airport, especially over the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and could lead to staffing problems at the detention center.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport organized an event with credit unions, utilities and nonprofit organizations that can help federal employees obtain short-term loans and assistance, said spokesman Perry Cooper.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner advised all passengers to arrive at the airport two hours before their flight because the government shutdown is causing change.

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