TSA workers still on the job at Philadelphia International Airport despite not getting paid

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Although major delays are being reported at airports across the country with more than double the number of Transportation Security Administration screeners calling out sick, no problems are being reported yet at Philadelphia International Airport.

However, Joe Shuker, the head of the TSA union in Philadelphia, predicts problems will spread quickly if the shutdown doesn't end soon.

"I mean sooner or later these guys are going to break," said Shuker. "They're not going to have any means to come to work."

With more than 700 TSA workers missing their first paycheck on Saturday and many living paycheck to paycheck, TSA union officials said once the money runs out, many might not be able to make it to work.

At the Atlanta airport Monday, the long lines that snaked all of the way back to baggage claim spelled grief from the government shutdown.

"It's chaos out here," said one passenger at ATL . "This line, I've been here about 15 minutes and it's probably moved about two feet."

Several security lanes that are normally open to the public during rush remained closed and some people were missing their flights. They are struggling in cities like Washington and Houston, where a terminal was shut down over the weekend and expected to remain closed Tuesday.

"The terminal I was supposed to fly out is closed; I had to round the entire airport just to get back to Terminal B," said a passenger in Washington.

In Philadelphia, some air travelers sympathized with TSA screeners.

"How do you put food on the table? How do you not feed families for a stupid wall?" asked Claudjone Jules of Mt. Airy.

If there is a bright spot in this mess, Shuker said agencies like Philabundance and Catholic Social Services have stepped forward to help workers who are not getting paid.

"For years, TSA participated in food drives right here. We've collected food, donated food, and now we have to be on the receiving end of that," said Brandon Lee of Northeast Philadelphia.

A spokesman for TSA said the agency would shift screeners around the country to respond to shortages that crop up, with the first deployments to Atlanta and Houston.

The agency said the screeners would not incur out-of-pocket expenses in the reassignments.

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