TSA agent Kimberly Black helps passengers get through security at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

Atlanta mayor: Continued federal shutdown will affect airport workers

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms posted on Twitter that workers at the world’s busiest airport and their families will be affected if the partial federal government shutdown continues.

Bottoms wrote in the Saturday morning post that the Atlanta airport “is the busiest in the world and largest job center in the state. More than 26K private, many of whom are hourly workers, and their families will also be impacted if this #governmentshutdown doesn’t end NOW.”

Federal workers including Transportation Security Administration officers, Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are considered essential workers and are working without pay.

Some airports have been affected by an increase in Transportation Security Administration workers calling in sick, according to CNN. The TSA workers’ union says New York’s John F. Kennedy, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Dallas-Fort Worth airports have been affected, CNN reported.

TSA on its Twitter account acknowledged that the issue began over the holidays and has increased but is “causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process. Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change.”

Still, wait times could be affected “depending on the number of call outs,” TSA tweeted. The agency said it screened more than 2.2 million passengers Friday, and 99.8 percent of them waited less than 30 minutes.

The shutdown began last month, but most federal workers were paid Dec. 28. Their next paycheck is scheduled for Jan. 11, and they face the risk of missing a paycheck if the shutdown continues, according to Jamie Dupree of News 95.5 and AM-750 WSB.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is offering free parking to TSA employees during the federal shutdown. TSA workers in uniform can park on level 4 of the North daily parking deck for free by presenting their employee badge to the CT30 cashier at the exit, according to the city of Atlanta’s Department of Aviation.

Last week, the head of the Air Line Pilots Association representing pilots at Delta, United, JetBlue, Spirit and other airlines sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to “take the necessary steps to immediately end the shutdown of government agencies that is adversely affecting the safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system.”

The letter from ALPA president Joe DePete said there are fewer FAA safety inspectors than needed to ensure air traffic control infrastructure is performing at its peak, and aircraft manufacturing oversight has been reduced or stopped.

Air traffic controllers, TSA officers and airspace maintenance workers “are dutifully providing safety of life services while facing increasingly difficult financial pressures to provide for those dependent on their paycheck,” DePete wrote. “The pressure these civil servants are facing at home should not be ignored. At some point, these dedicated federal employees will encounter personal financial damages that will take a long time from which to recover, if at all.”

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