TSA union holds rally at Atlanta's airport

Daniel Fowler
January 12, 2019

"TSA officers are among the lowest paid federal employees, with many living paycheck-to-paycheck", Thompson wrote.

The rally was one of several across the country Thursday as the shutdown reached a critical stage in which hundreds of thousands of government workers will miss their first paycheck.

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. For example, Alaska Airlines has warned that without FAA officials to sign off, the new Paine Field Airport near Seattle may not be able to open as promised on February 11.

Airport security officers, along with air traffic controllers and employees at more than a dozen US agencies and departments, have been caught in a political battle between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over whether to fund a border wall with Mexico.

Airport officials say they will be providing free lunches to the 200 federal workers at Pittsburgh International today, and on future Fridays. "We are, though, very much monitoring checkpoints, and we're in close contact with the federal authorities and the airlines", said Cynthia Vega, a spokeswoman for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Robert Mueller met with Trump's pollster
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russian Federation and criticized Mueller's ongoing probe as a "witch hunt". Trump did not elaborate and turned to another reporter with a question on a different topic.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association filed a lawsuit Friday seeking a temporary restraining order against the federal government for allegedly violating the Fifth Amendment by depriving controllers of "hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process". 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. Even though she's not getting paid, she's showing up to work. The agency is focusing on ensuring its resources are devoted to ensure that the system remains safe, it said in a statement. They're anxious how they're going to pay their mortgages, their rent, their vehicle payments. The Senate already passed the measure, which now goes to Trump for his signature.

At issue is a lack of agents from the US Transportation Security Administration, who are seen as "essential" federal workers and hence are still on the job - but without pay until the shutdown ends.

"As the current lapse in funding persists, TSA officers continue to perform with the utmost professionalism and dedication", Bilello said. TSA said only about 220,000 travelers waited at least 15 minutes at checkpoints, while 0.2 percent - fewer than 5,000 - waited at least 30 minutes.

Screeners start around $24,000 a year, and most earn between $26,000 and $35,000, according to TSA.

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