DFW AIRPORT (CBSDFW.COM) – As the partial government shutdown enters its fourth week, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers in North Texas have gathered today to discuss the impact the shutdown is having on airline safety.
Thousands of TSA agents are doing the work but not getting the check, causing many to call out sick because they say they have no money for gasoline or childcare. No-shows among screeners jumped Sunday and again Monday, when the TSA reported a national absence rate of 7.6 percent compared with 3.2 percent on a comparable day a year ago.
As it stands, some 420,000 federal employees nationwide, including TSA officers, are still working without pay.
Some terminals have been closed at airports in Houston and Miami to consolidate screeners at remaining checkpoints. Officials say the Terminal B security checkpoint and ticket counter shuttered Sunday at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airportwill remain closed through Tuesday.
But so far Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) and Dallas Love Field Airport have reported no issues.
“They’re actually patting us on the back, telling us thank you for coming to work even though they know we aren’t getting paid. [They also say] they’re praying for us and that they’re praying that this ends soon,” said American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1040 President Rudy Garcia.
According to the TSA, some 1.97 million U.S. passengers were screened on Sunday and that 99.1 percent waited less than 30 minutes, and 93.1 percent less than 15 minutes.
The maximum wait time at DFW Airport is 25 minutes according to the TSA, which is 5th among U.S. airports. Love Field has a maximum TSA wait time of 41 minutes.
As for the response to workers here in North Texas, Garcia said, “It’s been nothing but positive. I’ve never seen so much positive compliments from the passengers in the eight years I’ve worked here.”