Expect Tougher Air Travel as Government Shutdown Drags On: TSA Union Rep

January 10, 2019

By Tracey Cheek

As the government shutdown approaches the milestone of becoming the longest in history, Transportation Security Agency employees are feeling the strain ー and soon, so will travelers, Joe Shuker, a TSA union representative, told Cheddar.

"Everybody's pretty much stressed out right now," said Shuker, who represents Philadelphia International Airport workers as American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 333 president. "We're kind of out in uncharted water here. We never missed a check and now are about to."

Federal workers would be typically paid on Friday. After the skipped check, Shuker said it may only be days before some workers can't afford to travel to work.

The stress is already taking a toll at some airports.

On Thursday, Miami International Airport announced it will close a terminal early for three days due to an increase in TSA screeners not reporting for work, CNN reported.

"There's going to be longer lines, there aren't going to be enough people here to work the checkpoint," said Shuker. "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."

If the shutdown continues until Saturday, it will mark the longest in American history.

"People are trying to go out and get second jobs," Shuker said." "We have a resilient workforce, people will come to work until they can't ー until they don't have the means to get here or feed their family ー that's what's going to happen. People are paycheck-to-paycheck here, we don't have a lot of money."

Shuker said he's not confident the crisis will end soon, and blamed President Trump for failing to make "rational decisions" in his negotiations with congressional Democrats over a border wall.

"Why would you shut down TSA because you want a wall?" Shuker asked. "You figure the government would be a model employee right, they should probably be the best, they should probably set the example ー but there they are, asking people to come in and not get paid, or people are sitting at home and not able to work."

For full interview click here.