Despite the partial government shutdown entering its 34th day, and federal workers about to miss their second paycheck, Transportation Security Administration agents at the Durango-La Plata County Airport continue to show up for work, airport director Tony Vicari said Wednesday.
All across the U.S., reports have filtered in that some TSA workers are not coming to work, calling in sick or quitting. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that 10 percent of TSA workers failed to show up for work on Sunday. Federal records show about 45,000 people work for TSA.
The lack of TSA agents has resulted in longer wait times to pass through airport security, the Post reported.
Here in Durango, however, Vicari said the 23 TSA workers at the airport have remained loyal workers since the partial shutdown took effect Dec. 22.
“To my knowledge, no one has quit or walked out or abnormally called in sick,” he said. “We’ve got a hometown crew here that continues to come in and work hard, despite the obvious impacts to morale as you start to miss paychecks.”
Attempts to reach TSA agents for this story were unsuccessful. Calls to the American Federation of Government Employees District 11 Office, the union that represents TSA workers in Colorado, were not returned.
Vicari, however, said TSA workers can go only so long without pay.
“One can only continue to string out bills, payments and expenses for life for so long before a missed income becomes painful,” Vicari said. “They’ll receive back pay, but that doesn’t help with current bills.”
Vicari said the community has stepped up to help federal workers not receiving pay. Notably, Alpine Bank is offering an interest-free loan equal to one month’s net pay. He said Purgatory Resort also delivered lunch one day to TSA workers.
Since they are federal workers, Vicari said it can be tricky helping TSA workers. For instance, agents can’t accept any gifts while on duty at the screening checkpoint.
“Community members should contact the airport administration office at (970) 382-6051 if they are interested in helping federal employees impacted by the shutdown,” Vicari said. “The airport will put them in touch with local TSA staff to ensure that any contributions are appropriately managed in compliance with federal policies.”