With possible shutdown looming, TSA workers worry about future

Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 10:46 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - We last spoke to Scott Robbinson in 2019, during the last government shutdown. Back then, the TSA worker and President of the Local 448 American Federation of Government Employees Union was warning us how hard a shutdown can be on TSA agents.

Now, nearly two years later, he says the impact could be even harder.

“The job insecurity, the fact that just by reporting to work you’re being exposed to many, many people,” he said, counting off issues on his fingers.

TSA agents, like air traffic controllers, FAA staff, and many other airport workers, are considered essential. That means during a government shutdown, they go right on working, without pay.

“In the past what we’ve seen is officers slipping into debt, officers sometimes slipping into homelessness,” said Robbinson. “There is a very immediate impact on our screening workforce.”

This time around, there’s also Christmas to contend with.

“We are cautioning our members to be very frugal in their spending this holiday season, simply because we do not know if there could be a disruption to your pay,” he said.

Late Friday, Congress reached another temporary deal that will avert a shutdown through the weekend, meaning workers will still draw their paychecks.

But the continued uncertainty, Robbinson says, makes that reprieve cold comfort.

“Having it extended a week, or two days, or two weeks is not provide any comfort to the Federal workforce or I think anyone in the country,” he said.

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