Airport Screeners Still Shorted Pay for Work During Shutdown

Some 1,000 of the nation’s 40,000-plus airport screeners, among the lowest-paid federal workers -- whose morale is also at rock bottom, surveys show -- “haven’t received the bulk of their back pay” from when they had to toil during GOP President Donald Trump’s 5-week partial government shutdown.

The screeners, officially known as Transportation Security Officers, complained to their union, the Government Employees (AFGE). It in turn had to raise the issue with their employer, the Homeland Security Department, says AFGE President J. David Cox

Cox discussed the screeners’ situation in a brief March 13 interview during the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in New Orleans. The screeners were among the almost 420,000 federal workers whom Trump forced to toil without pay during the shutdown, which started at midnight Dec. 21. He locked another 380,000 or so workers out.

Forcing the screeners to toil without back pay, and leaving them wondering how they would feed their families and pay the rent, may have driven one Orlando Airport screener, depressed over the situation, to commit suicide, his AFGE local president said.

Trump shut down nine Cabinet Departments, including Homeland Security, in his unsuccessful campaign to force Congress to yield to his demand for $5.7 billion for his Mexican Wall, which foes call both racist and ineffective.

When Congress refused to yield and Trump had to reopen the government, he declared an ersatz “national emergency” to grab Pentagon money for his border wall.

In the meantime, Trump’s demand had made the federal workers – the screeners and the others – pawns. And the screeners might not be fully paid for “three to six months,” Cox said. Some of those who got shorted got their overtime pay and shift differentials “but not the bulk of their basic pay,” he explained.

They complained to AFGE, which represents them. The union, in turn, took their cases to the department. Its payroll office had not kept track of who’s been fully repaid and who hasn’t. “It’s very frustrating,” Cox added.

TSA partially paid some of the screeners one week’s worth of pay for a 2-week work period, late in the shutdown, on Jan. 25. It hasn’t reported on how many screeners are still left short of pay.      


Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates