Transportation Security Administration screeners will receive only one week of back pay, despite missing two full pay periods while still dutifully reporting for work every day during the government shutdown, Politico is reporting.
Perhaps the most visible of all government employees, the men and women who guide passengers through airport security had been working without pay for four weeks during the government shutdown. Several media outlets covered the stories of the hardships they’d gone through; some facing eviction, some being unable to afford childcare. Many called in sick, contributing to long lines at airports.
Now that the shutdown is over and the employees are back to work and getting paid for at least the next three weeks, per the spending bill signed by President Donald Trump, the question turns to the employees’ back pay. As it turns out, they won’t be getting much.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske tweeted this morning that the employees will be partially compensated for the first pay period they missed, from December 23 through January 5, to the tune of one week’s pay. This will be accomplished by scraping up what little money remains from the agency’s 2018 appropriations.
Additionally, the agency is trying to come up with some money to compensate the employees in other ways beyond their standard pay.
TSA screeners have never achieved full collective bargaining rights on par with other federal employees, nor GS pay. Some Democrats want to change that when the shutdown ends: https://t.co/lqHs20jfir
— George Zornick (@gzornick) January 25, 2019
For example, the agency will also compensate employees for parking at the airports where they work and for their travel costs, according to Pokeske. The agency will further try to come up with some other ways to compensate its employees.
“Challenging circumstances force challenging decisions. I fully recognize anything short of full paychecks are a partial measure, and in no way compensates the #TSA workforce for the financial burden many are experiencing.”
The employees who will receive partial compensation include those who make less than $90,000 per year. That’s basically the entirety of the TSA’s on-the-ground workforce, which includes screeners and bomb-detection and disposal units. Air marshals, who are also TSA employees, are excluded from the current program, but the agency is also looking into alternative ways to compensate them.
Meanwhile, Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that the TSA pay debacle just goes to show that Trump needs to end the government shutdown, once and for all.
“[This partial payment] does not make up for how much these frontline workers are owed and they deserve better. Officers also won’t even know how much pay they will be receiving and will therefore be unable to budget for it. This is no way to run a government and it is time for the president to end the shutdown.”
It remains unclear as of this writing, when, or even if, the TSA screeners will be compensated for the entire two pay periods they missed while working without pay during the government shutdown.