Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees protested Thursday outside Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Thursday as federal workers operating without pay went through the 20th day of a partial government shutdown.
Fox 5 in Atlanta reports that members of the local TSA union, AFGE Local 554, rallied dozens of workers in a picket line outside the airport’s Domestic North Terminal, where thousands of flyers arrive and depart every day at the busiest airport in the nation.
Video of the protests showed workers marching and holding signs declaring “solidarity is strength,” while chanting “Hey-hey, ho-ho, lockout has got to go.”
— Will Nunley FOX 5 (@willnunleyfox5) January 10, 2019
The partial government shutdown began Dec. 22 after Congress and the White House were unable to reach a deal to fund the federal government due to the president’s demand for $5.7 billion in funds for construction of a border wall.
A union president for the TSA said some agents have already walked off their jobs amid the shutdown, warning that such problems would only intensify as workers were forced to operate longer without pay.
“Every day I’m getting calls from my members about their extreme financial hardships and need for a paycheck. Some of them have already quit and many are considering quitting the federal workforce because of this shutdown,” Hydrick Thomas, the TSA council president for the American Federation of Government Employees, said Wednesday.
“The loss of officers, while we’re already shorthanded, will create a massive security risk for American travelers since we don’t have enough trainees in the pipeline or the ability to process new hires,” he added.
Those who remain at work have reportedly been declining gifts and tips offered by passengers, citing agency guidelines.
“We are humbled by the acts of kindness and support from industry and the public, who clearly recognize and admire our officers’ efforts,” the agency said in a statement this week. “TSA will continue to conduct the critical work necessary to secure the nation’s transportation systems. Not on our watch.”