TSA officers to rally Friday at Pittsburgh International Airport
Transportation Security Administration workers are ready to show their frustration with the current government shutdown.
A rally by union leaders representing TSA workers in Pennsylvania has been planned for 11 a.m. Friday at the Pittsburgh International Airport’s ticketing level.
On Wednesday, those leaders called for an end to the shutdown.
TSA employees in Pittsburgh and elsewhere are worried about feeding their families and paying bills, AFGE Local 332 President William Reese said in a statement.
“The stress level is at an all-time high, but despite these current hardships, our folks continue to serve the flying public and carry out their vital mission,” Reese said.
AFGE, one of the nation’s largest unions for federal workers, represents about 500 TSA workers across the state. About 220 of them work at Pittsburgh International Airport, according to AFGE District 3 Manager Kimberly Kraynak-Lambert. She previously served as the Local 332 president and worked as a TSA officer at Pittsburgh International Airport for 16 years.
Kraynak-Lambert said TSA officers at Pittsburgh have not been calling off work because they are not getting paid. Recent absences have been because of illness and, in some cases, because TSA canceled all scheduled leaves during the shutdown.
“You have people that are coming to work that are focused on the mission — all of them are — and they’re not getting paid,” she said. “And if they had doctor’s appointments or previous functions that they put in leave for or need to use, they’re being told they’re not permitted.”
This hurts morale, especially among workers who commute more than an hour from West Virginia or Ohio, Kraynak-Lambert said.
The TSA saw 6.1 percent of workers call in unscheduled absences Jan. 15, compared with 3.7 percent on the same day a year ago, according to figures provided by the agency Wednesday.
“Many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations,” a statement from TSA said.
The agency is not releasing specific airport call-out information because of security concerns.
The agency screened 1.6 million passengers Tuesday, with passengers waiting less than 30 minutes on average to get through security, according to the TSA.
Pittsburgh International Airport reported wait times of about 20 minutes at the main security checkpoint Wednesday afternoon.
The partial shutdown hasn’t affected flights or operations at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, according to Dwayne Pickels, grants director for the Westmoreland County Airport Authority.
The TSA has had “enough people so far to get the job done,” Pickels said. “They do a very good job.”
To help ease the financial pressure on agents working without pay, DeNunzio’s Italian Chophouse at the Unity airport is offering them half-price meals, Pickels said.
Staff writer Jeff Himler contributed to this report. Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, email@example.com or via Twitter .