Transportation Security Administration officers are calling out from work in higher numbers as the government shutdown continues and forces them to work without pay, according to CNN.
A federal worker pay period ended Friday, meaning workers could begin missing paychecks if the shutdown continues. They were paid last week and would normally get paid again on Jan. 11.
How many? Different airports have seen varying levels of increased absences. TSA employee union president Hydrick Thomas said as many as 170 employees have called out each day this week at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
A Texas TSA official said call outs have increased by 200-300 percent at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. North Carolina TSA union president Mac Johnson said Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham airports have seen 10 percent more call outs, and also said the absences are "creating a vulnerability."
Why are they calling out? Some federal officials told CNN the absences were in protest of delayed paychecks. Others have said some TSA employees can't go to work because they can't afford childcare during the shutdown, or they've had to find temporary non-government jobs to pay the bills.
"The problem of call outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck," a DFW union official told CNN. "TSA officers are telling the union they will find another way to make money. That means calling out to work other jobs."
What's the impact? TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said the absences have not yet caused a significant disruption in TSA's ability to perform security functions.
"Call outs began over the holiday period and have increased, but are causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process," Bilello said in a statement. "Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change."
Bilello said additional absences in coming days and weeks could result in longer lines as some airports may have to close some TSA lanes.
Thomas said he thinks the shutdown and resulting absences will impact travelers.
"This will definitely affect the flying public who we are sworn to protect," Thomas said.