The Department of Homeland Security is pushing back against a CNN report that claimed Transportation Security Administration agents have staged a "sick out" — and thereby potentially compromising airport security — because they are required to work during the partial government shutdown, despite not being paid.
What did CNN claim?
Citing "two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials," CNN claimed "hundreds" of TSA agents at four major U.S. airports participated in a "sick out," a retaliatory measure for being forced to work without pay.
The report stated:
At New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, as many as 170 TSA employees have called out each day this week, Thomas tells CNN. Officers from a morning shift were required to work extra hours to cover the gaps.
Call outs have increased by 200%-300% at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where typically 25 to 30 TSA employees call out from an average shift according to a local TSA official familiar with the situation.
Union officials predicted the number of agents calling out from work would increase if the government remains partially shut down.
How did the DHS respond?
DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton characterized CNN's report as "fake news."
"More #FakeNews from @CNN. Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out. CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them," he wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the TSA said in a statement "security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change" during the shutdown.
Statement on nationwide “sick out" as reported by CNN's Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace. #News pic.twitter.com/RK0wiFLRJt
— TSA (@TSA) January 4, 2019