More TSA agents call in sick as week 3 of shutdown takes its toll on workers

Posted at 2:41 PM, Jan 07, 2019

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are one group who are expected to work without pay during the shutdown. Now, some of them have been choosing not to come in by calling in sick.

Brian Turner, a TSA agent, and his wife are new parents. Thanks to the government shutdown, Turner has no idea when he'll get his next paycheck, and the couple is worried they could run out of money by the end of the month.

“We are a paycheck to paycheck family, in the reality of it,” Turner says. “So, we do depend on that constant income.”

Turner is considered an essential employee, so he still has to work even though he's not currently getting paid.

“When you don't have a paycheck coming in and you don't have a guaranteed source of income when you thought you did, it's disheartening and it kind of makes you feel a little panicked,” he says.

For some TSA agents, the shutdown is taking its toll.

A growing number of agents are now calling out sick to work other places or to find new jobs. Safety and long lines could become another concern if the shutdown continues.

“Poor morale or other issues that could affect the TSA because of the shutdown and not getting paid, that could have some sort of intangible effect on how well they're doing their jobs,” says David Inserra, with the Heritage Foundation. “People are people, and if you're not getting paid, if you're upset, you're probably not going to be doing as good of a job as you otherwise would.”

For now, Turner is still going to work. He hopes Congress and President Trump do the same and find a shutdown solution.

“You feel hopeless and you feel helpless,” Turner expresses. “I'm not in Washington. I don't have the influence these people of power have, and we rely on them. We elect them to these positions to get a job done.”