Beleaguered TSA agents to get a day’s pay and $500 bonus as the longest shutdown in US history shows no signs of ending and sickouts continue
- TSA Administrator David Pekoske announced on Twitter that TSA agents would get a little help with a day’s pay and a $500 holiday bonus
- Pekoske says that the compensation was possible ‘unique authorities’ provided the TSA under the law
- The airport security workers were among the 800,000 federal employees who missed their first paycheck on Friday
- The missed pay period comes courtesy of the government shutdown that began on December 22 and has become the longest in American history
The Transportation Security Administration is offering a bit of compensation for its agents working without pay as the longest government shutdown in American history drag on.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske made the announcement on Twitter Friday that agents who were working on December 22, the last day of the pay period, would receive that payment along with a $500 bonus for working during the holidays.
Workers had not gotten paid for that day originally because the shutdown had already begun.
‘While I realize this is not what you are owed for your hard work during pay period 26 and what you deserve, I hope these actions alleviate some of the financial hardship many of you are facing,’ Pekoske tweeted.
Pekoske had tweeted early on Friday that the TSA was looking at multiple ways to get some compensation to their unpaid employees. According to the administrator, the funding was possible ‘because of unique authorities provided TSA in law.’
The passenger area of the Miami International airport Terminal G on January 11 one day before it closed
The Terminal G passenger area of the Miami International Airport on January 12 shown after it was forced to shut down due to a shortage of security agents
Federal workers during this shutdown missed their first paychecks on Friday, heightening concerns about mounting financial pressures on employees.
TSA agents are among the 420,000 federal workers considered essential employees required to work without their paychecks.
The TSA said its rate of unscheduled absences rose to 5.6 percent on Saturday from 3.3 percent a year ago but that security standards have not been compromised
Miami International Airport said it will close one of its terminals early over the next several days due to a possible shortage of security screeners, who have been calling in sick at twice the normal rate.
The TSA administrator explained on Friday what the compensation for workers would look like as they roll it out over the weekend
The shutdown had begun before the start of the December 22 work day, so the compensation is completing that pay period for those that worked that day
The paid day and bonus comes at a time TSA employees have started calling in sick, a process that is beginning to strain airport traffic and security
Pekoske did not explain as to what the ‘unique authorities’ were that found cash to distribute to the employees
Roughly 800,000 federal workers did not receive paychecks that would have gone out on Friday. Some have resorted to selling their possessions or posting appeals on online fundraising sites to help pay their bills.
Trump is considering a possible national emergency declaration that would end the shutdown and allow him to obtain his wall funding by circumventing Congress.
But on Saturday, he told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro that he would rather Democrats take action, adding that he was waiting at the White House ready to cut a deal.
‘I want to give them a chance to see if they can act responsibly,’ Trump said, calling the situation at the nation’s southern border a ‘humanitarian crisis.’
TSA Administrator David Pekoske announced the compensation package on Friday in the hopes of alleviating some of the hardship on workers leading to absences
President Trump continues to push for a border wall as part of a budget deal with Democrats who have tried to pass legislation without funding to no avail
‘They think it’s politics. I think it’s bad politics. This country wants to have protection at the border,’ Trump said.
Democrats say Trump shut the government in a ‘temper tantrum’ by refusing to sign bipartisan funding legislation last year that did not include money for his wall.
The closure, which began on December 22, broke a decades-old record by a 1995-1996 shutdown under former President Clinton that lasted 21 days.
Democrats, who call a wall an ineffective, outdated answer to a complex problem, have passed several bills in the House of Representatives to reopen the government without the $5.7 billion funding for Trump’s barrier, but the legislation has been ignored by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Trump originally promised Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. But Mexico has refused.