TSA officers at Portland airport would work without pay in government shutdown

Without a federal funding plan by Saturday, “essential” federal employees, including TSA officers at PDX, will begin working without pay.
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 7:33 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - If Congress is unable to come up with a funding plan by Saturday, “essential” federal employees, including TSA officers who work at Portland International Airport, will begin working without pay.

“Let’s not penalize your federal employees because you can’t come together and agree on something,” said Trang Kim, a TSA security officer and vice president for the local TSA union, AFGE TSA Local 1127.

Without an agreement by October 1, the government will shut down, but essential employees like TSA officers will still be clocking in without pay. Most officers say they’re feeling anxious that they won’t be able to make ends meet.

“Not being able to pay our mortgage, our rent, daycare, the babysitter, paying for medication, paying for groceries. A lot of our folks, the officers, they live from paycheck to paycheck. We’re not, we don’t have five months’ worth of income saved up because we don’t make enough for that,” Kim said.

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“I’m newly married and we’re long distance so I have two home payments currently which is giving me anxiety,” said TIara Sablan, a TSA lead security officer.

Kim said she’s already worked through the last government shutdown in 2018 when it lasted more than a month.

“It’s humiliating, it’s frustrating,” she said.

However, she said regardless of what happens, travelers shouldn’t expect any delays.

“How we feel, how it impacts us, we set that aside. when we come to work, it’s your safety we care about,” she said.

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FOX 12 reached out to TSA about the potential shutdown and a spokesperson sent this statement:

“At the Transportation Security Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security, 59,000 of the agency’s 62,000 employees are considered essential and would continue working without pay in the event of a shutdown. An extended shutdown could mean longer wait times at airports.”

TSA Administrator David Pekoske, who was TSA administrator during the previous shutdown, said the lapse in funding took a toll on the agency, with growing numbers of TSA officers saying they were unable to report to work. As a result, airport checkpoint wait times increased. A similar scenario could play out again if the shutdown lasts for an extended period.

“It’s very, very hard for anybody to go for 20 days, 30 days, 40 days or longer without receiving a paycheck. It impacts the ability of people to get to work, to pay to put gas in their vehicles, to pay for parking. It impacts their ability to pay the individuals that provide care for their children.”