TSA Will Partially Pay Screeners in an Attempt to Get Them to Show Up For Work

With nationwide sickouts approaching Miami levels, TSA is making a partial payroll payment and bonusing employees despite the government shutdown that would appear to the legality of doing so questionable.

Transportation Security Administration workers who manned checkpoints on Dec. 22 will be paid, despite the federal shutdown that began the previous day, and they also will receive a $500 bonus for working during the busy Christmas season.

The payment for work that Saturday and the bonus money are an effort by TSA Administrator David P. Pekoske to soften the blow to his workers and encourage them to remain on the job after they missed their first paycheck on Friday.

Unscheduled sick leave hit 5.6% on Friday compared to a 3.3 percent who had unscheduled absences on Jan. 13, 2018.”

TSA though is proud that they continue to get passengers through checkpoints in under half an hour, which George W. Bush might have called ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.’

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @JC

    Exactly. We should just fire a few of them for refusing to show up for their involuntary unpaid work just to save money to feed their famiiies or just because they don’t have money for gas. It’s inconvenicing us. People must be held responsible!

  2. I wish one of the articles would specify how they’re justifying the payments as I’m curious. There are exceptions where some carryover funds can be used for payroll but it really depends on the facts of the situation. Also if non-expired funds are available, and IF the purpose of those funds includes payroll (or if they’re non-appropriated funds), they could be used. Not so sure about the $500 Christmas thing though.

    TSA clerks are among the more likely to jump ship and take new jobs, as they’re relatively lower paid and more likely to have a wider range of similar paying jobs to consider in the private sectpr.

    Air Traffic Controllers and FAA inspectors are working without pay as well (and FAA personnel working are very limited in number). When do we start to have a problem with those folks? Sure, Controllers don’t have very many alternate equivalent job offers, but do you want them starting to have stress over when they’ll get paid again? FAA safety inspectors are foregoing routine oversight but eventually that gets to be a problem. And I’d venture to guess that among those who are retirement-eligible, this may push some folks to go ahead and retire maybe sooner than they had been planning.

    And how does this encourage people to want to work for the government? TSA clerks don’t require much skill or smarts but you’d like them to be good people. More importantly, what about high-skilled workers, especially those who would be in high demand in the private sector? This is certainly not a positive factor to attract the best of those people.

  3. Furloughed and contractors excepted, no TSA employee missed a paycheck on 1/11 (Friday). All have been paid in full as of the last semi-monthly check received late December for the 2 week period prior to shutdown. TSA Direct Deposits drop on Monday 1/14/19 (not 1/11) as per the DHS/TSA FSAFEDS payroll schedule, which is public domain, yet summarily ignored by agenda-driven media.

    The 1/14 drop, however, is at grave risk given no agreement reached during Friday 1/11 negotiations and the funding expedite fee would be prohibitively expensive.

  4. Can someone explain to me where the money is coming from. Can they just write checks without the money being there, and a bank will cash these checks? The money must be there, right? If the money isn’t really there, or doesn’t have to be there (in the TSA payroll account), why can’t every other agency pay people with this “make believe” money. Why can’t the whole government pay people without the money being there? Asking for a scam artist friend of mine.

  5. Fire them. I’ve worked in the government during shutdowns. My spouse is a contractor. We deal with it. When you are told to work, you work. It’s part of the deal of government work. Shutdowns suck. But I see clerks at the DC courthouse going to work without pay. I see administrative assistants going to work without pay. I see the federal marshals going to work without pay. Grow up. You will be paid. Yes this is unfair. Life is unfair. Get over it.

  6. If anyone should be fired, it is that Mango Mussolini currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and certainly not someone who is struggling to pay rent or fees their family (also because the Combover Caligula decided that his top 0.001% cronies were the only ones deserving of real tax relief).

    And whether certain government workers “knew” of the possibility that their positions would not be funded if the government were ever taken over by meanspirited puerile clowns is not relevant. An illegal policy is unenforceable as a matter of law and the XIII Amendment outlawed slavery 150 years ago. And what is slavery? Forcing someone to work without pay.

  7. @JC

    I guess you missed the part about being a decent human being.

    If you were in same situation of having of choose between taking care of your family and showing up unpaid to work to make sure that frequent flyers’ precheck lines are moving smoothly and you’d showed up to work I would question your sanity.

    Conflating TSA screeners and soldiers at a DMZ is an idiotic comparison even then yes history shows that when you stop paying the military they just get up and leave. That’s the bargain they made. They put their lives at risk and we compensate them for it. Stop compensating them they stop protecting you. Try not paying your local police and see how long they stay in the jobs. If you’re so worried about the DMZ (or the airport) why don’t you quit your job and go volunteer (unpaid) there.

    And no shutdowns are not expected. They only happen when idiots like you vote people like Trump and Gingrich into office, any inconveniences we’re having isn’t the TSA screeners faults it’s the fault of the minority of Americans so credulous and ill-informed they voted for this president,

  8. @JC

    “@gollum” – nice. Keep it up and you might soon reach the rhetorical heights of a clever 5th grader. I picture you chuckling at your own “cleverness” as you wrote that. It’s inspiring.

    I would break down the many, many demonstrations of stupidity and historical ignorance in your reply but I bow to the futility of trying to engage in a battle of wits with the unarmed. There’s nothing anyone can say that will fix that level of stupid. I will leave you to go put on your MAGA hat, watch Fox, and hide in your house from the pillaging hordes of illegal aliens.

  9. As a federal emergency responder for over 20 years, I know that there could be a lapse in funding at various times, resulting in a “shutdown” or “partial shutdown”, during which time I may or may not have to go to work to keep things safe. Which employees work vs get furloughed is decided at the beginning of the furlough, determined by mgmt and needs. Going into each shutdown, there’s no guarantee that furloughed workers will get back pay… but there’s a near-certain chance the people still coming to work WILL. Therefore some mgmt like to offer the choice-to-work to the needier employees first, and furlough the rest. I imagine TSA kept more of their workers working.

    That being said, if you are kept on as “minimum staffing” with the certainty you’ll be paid later, and then you choose to “play sick”, I’d consider that person an undesirable employee. Definitely NOT A TEAM PLAYER…. Not a person you could count on in a pinch or during rough times. I’d like to see those people fired, but it won’t be done. I think govt should eliminate sick leave…just give annual leave. Also there could be a group-shared emergency leave, approved by managers, for true health emergencies. That would force people who call in sick to use their annual leave, instead of their massive sick leave account. That would deter some of the fake call-ins.

    In truth, it would be so much better if you could screen out the duds before hiring, instead of not finding out who’s a dud until the middle of an emergency. It’s unfortunate.

    I will say that humans are very susceptible to low morale when surrounded by negative messaging. The panic-media reports of the last month have been streaming the “working without pay” messaging for A MONTH… and yet workers in my agency and in TSA still haven’t missed a single paycheck yet! (We all got paid Dec.31, and our next payday would be Jan.14.) Yes, the Jan.14 paycheck won’t arrive, but today we still have the same amount of money in our checking accounts that we’d always have. Yet many fed employees have been whipped into quite a panic, after hearing the narrative for 4 weeks.

    People who choose to live paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t maintain an emergency fund are foolish. Yes, it’s a choice. If your income is low, then you need to keep your expenditures lower, plain & simple. There are ALWAYS ways to do that (get a roommate, live frugally, wear clothes more than once, keep your old TV, buy used cars instead of new, give up Starbucks, give up alcohol, cook meals that are 50 cents per serving instead of restaurant meals for $20/serving, etc. Many people just wander through life with the newest iPhones & biggest trucks, & mountains of debt. It is sad, but it’s THEIR fault, not the government’s fault. I just can’t reiterate how foolish it is to live without an emergency fund. I hate to hear the media try to blame those peoples’ poor planning onto the govt instead. That’s blame-shifting. And it encourages people that paycheck-to-paycheck life is acceptable. It’s NOT.

    Finally, i just want to reiterate that there are many GOOD & RESPONSIBLE govt workers who would never play sick when their agency needs them most. I’m happy to see them get a bonus for that. (But I’d be happier to see the fakers replaced by team players. What a shame that the fakers get so much fame. Media has really caused a societal decline.)

  10. All I can tell you is that security on the pre-check line was a breeze on my trip the past few days. Perhaps this agency runs.just as efficiently (sic) at reduced staffing as everyone is more relaxed without the normal “mushers” and “drovers” yelling at everyone.

  11. Gary-

    You should add some credit card links to JC’s comments. That way at least you two would be getting paid.

  12. Sad comments by many on this post; sad comments indeed. These comments leave me with no misunderstanding on how this country stays in so much turmoil.

  13. Spending more than what comes in seems to be typical government SOP for quite a while.
    The seeming attitude of, “what do you mean I’m overdrawn, I have still checks left!” Is sorta common from a town right on up to the Feds.

  14. Everyone is still getting mail and postal workers are getting paid. The post office is self sufficient. Sell stamps, pay employees. What a concept. The other government agencies should take notice!

  15. I’d have to disagree with part of the comment Ryan made. “TSA clerks don’t require much skill or smarts but you’d like them to be good people”. I recently retired from TSA after working there for 12 years and I have a BA degree. You say that “TSA clerks don’t require much skill or smarts”. Apparently you don’t have a clue! Less than 10% who apply actually get hired. And not all of those pass the training and testing phase. These officers, not “clerks”, are required to know over 3100 procedures and tasks. They are tested every year on all aspects of the job and the tests aren’t easy. If you don’t pass, you are out of a job…simple as that! We usually lost about 10% every year! The hours are a bit difficult as well. How would you like start work at 4am? I will agree with you on the portion of your comment “you’d like the to be good people.” We had a great crew of hard working people of which close to half were retired or former military. TSA is the lowest paid government agency and I feel they deserve more money and credit for the job they do!

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