Saturday's media dump suggested that scores of TSA workers failed to show up to work as the government shutdown hits the two-week mark. According to CNN, "hundreds of TSA screeners" have called in sick, including at four major airports. At New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, for instance, reportedly as many as 170 TSA employees failed to show up to work. The report, which quotes "two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials," suggests this is all very bad news for travelers.
"This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect," Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, says in the report.
"Security effectiveness" will not be affected, but travelers may experience longer wait times, TSA spokesman Michael Bilello explained.
The call outs are believed to be "protests of the paycheck delay" that has resulted from the government shutdown, CNN writes, quoting a local union president in North Carolina, Mac Johnson, to hammer the point home.
The call outs are "creating a vulnerability" and screeners are "doing more with less," Johnson said.
Two of the sources, who are federal officials, described the sick outs as protests of the paycheck delay. One called it the "blue flu," a reference to the blue shirts worn by transportation security officers who screen passengers and baggage at airport security checkpoints.
A union official, however, said that while some employees are upset about the pay, officers have said they are calling in sick for more practical reasons. Single parents can no longer afford child care or they are finding cash-paying jobs outside of government work to pay their rent and other bills, for example.
CNN then suggests a few "theories" that could take place as a result of the drop in manpower, such as looser standards for checked baggage." The report ends with the admittance that there have been "no indications that any of these measures have been necessary or implemented."
The Department of Homeland Security press secretary said this is all a bunch of bologna.
More #FakeNews from @CNN. Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out. CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them. https://t.co/PzVeoIBt5R— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) January 4, 2019
President Trump praised his DHS spokesperson for the bold retort, adding his own take.
The government is shuttered because of an impasse between President Trump and leading Democrats over border security. Trump says he won't budge without the $5.6 billion he's asked for, some of which would go toward a border wall. Democrats say they're not giving him one cent for the structure and are stopping at $1.3 billion for border upgrades. The president is meeting with a group this weekend he assembled to tackle the issue and hopefully find a solution.