US air travel concerns surface as gov't shutdown drags on

12 January, 2019, 04:57 | Author: Regina Silva
  • TSA officer Mike Gayzagian

If the shutdown continues until Saturday, it will mark the longest in American history. However, the controller staffing was already at a 30-year low and support workers have been furloughed, putting more pressure on those who remain on the job and threatening to cause flight delays, she said.

The lawsuit filed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union charges that Trump, the Federal Aviation Administration and other USA officials are violating workers' constitutional rights by "depriving them of their hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process". There is no indication that is happening yet.

Among other things, the impasse has prompted TSA's union to file a lawsuit demanding that their members be paid, and union officials have raised the specter of screeners walking off the job permanently if they don't get relief.

"Our inspectors are the oversight, they are the regulatory side of the house for the FAA", said Mike Perrone, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union.

The security screeners and controllers are among workers declared essential to security and safety and have been ordered to work without pay. The agency is focusing on ensuring its resources are devoted to ensure that the system remains safe, it said in a statement. "Please put us back on the job right now". That's raising concerns that TSA will see even more employees calling in sick and dropping shifts as they pursue other options for income if the shutdown continues.

"You're going to have longer lines next week I would imagine, that would have to be the case if people can't make it to work".

Airports Council International-North America, which represents United States airports, urged Mr Trump and congressional leaders in a letter to quickly reopen the government.

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The stress is already taking a toll at some airports.

Some speaking out are TSA Agents working at Metro Airport where this round table was held.

At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, a spokesman said TSA "call-outs" have been minimal and that they aren't planning to cutback on security checkpoints - yet.

The Miami airport, which has intensified the debate over TSA with its concourse closure, is not yet considering privatizing its passenger-screening operation, a spokesman said.

On Thursday, air traffic controllers missed their first paycheck since the shutdown began.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers, filed its own lawsuit January 8.

Tampa International Airport is working with different agencies to set up a food pantry, get bus passes and work with utilities to help hundreds of federal employees who may be struggling to pay bills.

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