As the government shutdown continues with no end in sight, TSA workers in Hawaii have had enough, and are quitting their jobs.
Hawaii News Now reported Thursday that an unknown number of TSA workers have already resigned as workers are expected to miss their second consecutive paycheck due to the government shutdown, which is threatening to stretch into its sixth week. It’s unknown how the wave of resignations will affect air travel in and out of Hawaii.
Some TSA workers are reportedly now living in their vehicles as a result of not being paid for more than a month.
“I’ve heard of these examples of the federal workforce, screeners in particular on the Big Island living in their cars,” Joshua Christie, the chief steward for the union representing federal workers, told Hawaii News Now, adding that he’s also heard from several workers that their landlords are evicting them due to missed rent payments.
In addition to Christie’s union, unions representing air traffic controllers, TSA workers, and flight crew members issued a statement earlier this week warning that the shutdown had made air travel particularly dangerous.
“We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, and the traveling public due to the government shutdown,” stated the presidents of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the Air Line Pilots Association International, and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.
“In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”
President Trump is insisting that he won’t sign any legislation to send the approximately 800,000 federal workers back to their jobs (including an estimated 420,000 workers in “essential” jobs who are forced to come to work without pay) until Congress appropriates $5.7 billion for a border wall. Some of those workers are now suing the Trump administration under the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude) for being forced to work without being paid.
While Trump is contemplating declaring a national emergency along the Southern border to justify the wall, it’s worth noting that even a Republican-controlled House and Senate didn’t think Trump’s wall was necessary to include in previous spending bills.
The fact that some TSA workers are resigning may end up being what triggers an end to the shutdown, according to at least two top Republicans. Robert Costa of The Washington Post tweeted last week that “senior Republican lawmakers” confided to him that if TSA workers were to strike and shut down air travel, the shutdown would come to an abrupt end.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.