Detroit federal employees protest government shutdown

Lloyd Doyle
January 12, 2019

Congress adjourned for the weekend Friday afternoon, guaranteeing the government shutdown will continue and become the longest in U.S. history - as air traffic controllers sued the Trump administration over their frozen pay.

TSA has downplayed reports that a rise in airport screeners calling out sick - or even quitting their jobs - has led to long lines at security.

The shutdown will have dragged on for 24 days when lawmakers return to work Monday - smashing the 21 days set during the Clinton administration in 1995-96.

"If this keeps up there are problems that will arise - least of which would be increased wait times for travellers". TSA spokesman Michael Bilello conceded that the screener absentee rate is up, but said it was only slightly higher than normal for this time of year. There are 51,000 airport security officers, and he said the agency has brought on hundreds of new ones.

Bilello said there had been no spike in employees quitting and that on Tuesday, 5 percent of officers took unscheduled leave, up just slightly from 3.9 percent the same day past year. "If not for the shutdown, NATCA members would have begun to receive direct deposit of their pay into their accounts as of this morning".

TSA said that on Tuesday it screened 1.73 million passengers and 99.9 percent of passengers waited less than 30 minutes.

But U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, questioned how long adequate staffing at airports could continue.

According to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), more than 50,000 TSA officers and staff will most likely miss another paycheck during this shutdown.

Controllers across the country started seeing pay stubs Thursday showing that they are receiving no pay for their work guiding planes to airports nationwide.

"Airlines can not receive delivery of aircraft causing route cancellations, attrition of air traffic controllers reduces flow of aircraft in the air, and as transportation security officers reduce in numbers we will experience long, slowed security lines".

If a significant number of controllers missed work, the Federal Aviation Administration could be forced to extend separation requirements, amount of time between takeoffs and landings, which could delay travel.

Federal Aviation Administration Academy in Oklahoma City has been closed as a result of the shutdown and simulator trainings have been disrupted.

"Each day, the FAA's Air Traffic Controllers", the lawsuit says, "are responsible for ensuring the safe routing of tens of thousands of flights, often working lengthy, grueling overtime shifts to do so".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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