A government shutdown over border safety could soon cause serious security problems at airports, where more than 51,000 TSA employees began working without pay Friday.
The TSA reported a 55% increase in employees calling in sick Thursday, and some airport screeners have already quit, the agency’s spokesman Michael Bilello told Bloomberg .
The TSA is responding to staff shortages by planning to close some security checkpoints at airports nationwide beginning this weekend.
Airport authorities are expressing fear that the shutdown could soon worsen security screening.
“We’re very concerned that the current situation with government employees going without pay is unsustainable in the long term,” Christopher Bidwell, a senior vice president at the Airports Council International -North America in Washington, told Bloomberg. “We certainly have to be mindful of the potential for cascading operational impacts.”
Airports also are bracing for flight delays.
The group that represents more than 10,000 air-traffic controllers, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, filed a lawsuit Friday, alleging it’s against the law to force employees to work without pay.