Air Traffic Controllers Union Becomes Latest Group To Sue Trump Over Shutdown

Employees with the Transportation Security Administration walk through Reagan National Airport in Washington. Reuters

On Thursday, Miami International Airport announced it will close a terminal early for three days due to an increase in TSA screeners not reporting for work, CNN reported.

Thursday night, a United spokeswoman issued a statement predicting passengers won't be impacted by the logistical scramble.

USA airport security workers and air traffic controllers working without pay have been warning that security and safety could be compromised if the government shutdown continues, but the Trump administration said on Wednesday that staffing is adequate and travelers have not faced unusual delays. After 1 p.m., however, passengers will be unable to access any part of the terminal beyond the security checkpoint, including gates, restaurants, and shops.

Bilello said TSA is still hiring officers and working on contingency plans in case the shutdown lasts beyond Friday, when officers would miss their first paycheck since the shutdown began on December 22.

Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security consultant and a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, expects more TSA agents will fail to show up, creating longer lines and creating a potential target for terrorists at airports.

The air traffic controllers are also organizing a leafleting effort appealing directly to passengers at airports across the country, including in Dallas Atlanta, Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well as at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a union official said.


Shuker said he's not confident the crisis will end soon, and blamed President Trump for failing to make "rational decisions" in his negotiations with congressional Democrats over a border wall. There are 51,000 airport security officers, and he said the agency has brought on hundreds of new ones. Chin said G was chosen because it's the slowest concourse at MIA.

"Each day, the FAA's Air Traffic Controllers", the lawsuit says, "are responsible for ensuring the safe routing of tens of thousands of flights, often working lengthy, grueling overtime shifts to do so".

But local officials at the county-owned airport and federal managers are bracing for more workforce disruptions if the shutdown continues.

"It is completely unacceptable that the women and men who risk their lives safeguarding our airports are still required to report for work without knowing when they'll be paid again", AFGE national president J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement.

Mike Boyd, a consultant to airports, said TSA leaders will do what they can to streamline the screening process, which he called "pretty much of a veneer" even before the government shutdown. "If there's a shortage, the airport may have airline workers step in for non-technical positions like reviewing boarding passes before the checkpoints".

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