Philadelphia TSA workers call for masks to be required at airport

The president of Philadelphia's TSA union is calling for a requirement for everyone to wear masks inside the airport.

"The airport is the only place in the state of Pennsylvania where it's not required," said Joseph Shuker, president of AFGE Local 333, whose members are all required by their boss to wear masks for their own safety. They want to know why for everyone else at the airport it's optional.

"People coming to the airport, coming through screening are putting our officers at risk by not wearing masks," said Shuker. "It's really concerning."

He says eight TSA officers have tested positive for COVID-19 and worries there may be more beginning next weekend when an uptick in air travel is expected.

Action News asked Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health, if the airport was exempt from her order?

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"So airports are actually under the regulatory authority of the FAA and so airports are required to follow their guidance," said Levine.

But a spokeswoman for the FAA says requiring masks for passengers and airport personnel would be the responsibility of the airport and that have offered some guidance for airport sponsors.

A spokeswoman for PHL says they have made the decision presently not to require masks and that any such decision would benefit from federal guidance given the national and international nature of travel.

"I don't know how the governor or the Secretary of Health order somehow stops at the airport door. It's unbelievable that would happen," said Shuker.

Action News has learned that a number of other airports are also not requiring masks across the country.

To date, according to Shuker, 495 TSA officers have contracted the virus across the country and urges something to be done.

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