Union officials: Hundreds of TSA officers calling in sick so they can work paying jobs

Posted on Sunday, 6th January 2019 @ 01:55 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration screeners working for free during the government shutdown are calling in sick so they can earn money at jobs that pay, union officials told CNN.

Union representatives reported significant numbers of absences at major airports in New York, Texas and North Carolina.

As many as 170 agents called in sick each day this week at Kennedy International Airport in New York, Hydrick Thomas, president of the TSA union under the American Federation of Government Employees, told CNN.

Other union officials said absences are up at much as 300 percent at Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport and 10 percent at Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte airports. Numbers will “get worse as this drags on,” said union official Mac Johnson.

Sick time “call-outs have increased,” TSA spokesman Jim Gregory told The Washington Post. But so far they’re having “minimal impact,” he said. “To date the [screening] wait times remain within TSA standards,” which is a maximum of 30 minutes in a regular checkpoint queue.

That could change quickly if more workers call in sick. Post-holiday traffic at airports now is low, which could be mitigating a shortage of workers.

One TSA official told CNN that the absences were part of a “blue flu” action by upset employees. But union representatives said workers have to seek other jobs so they can pay rent, mortgages and child care costs. 

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