Philly TSA union president warns about long lines due to staffing shortages: 'It's a disaster'

"I don't know how we're supposed to do this all through the summer until September," said the union leader.

Thursday, May 26, 2022
Philly TSA union president says to expect long security lines
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The Transportation Security Administration is warning of delays due to continued staffing shortages.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Transportation Security Administration is warning of delays due to continued staffing shortages.

The issue is causing long lines, and officers are working long hours to keep up with demand.

The lines at TSA checkpoints Wednesday afternoon at Philadelphia International Airport were no exception.

"It's not only in Philadelphia, this is happening around the country," said Joe Shuker, Philadelphia's TSA union president.

Officials say officers have been working short-handed for the past two years. It's gotten to the point where the agency now requires officers to work a six-day workweek through the summer and mandatory overtime as needed.

"At any given time, they can walk up to you and say, 'Oh yeah, don't clock out, we need you to stay another 2, 3, 4, 5 hours or longer," said TSA lead officer Lashanda Palmer.

Shuker added, "And if they can't work overtime or they say they're too tired, they threaten them with disciplinary action."

Action News asked TSA Officer Matthew Culbertson what's the end result that could happen? What's the thing that he feared the most?

"I think we both know the answer to that, something not good. This is the last place we can keep you safe before you're 32,000 feet in the air," said Culbertson.

A TSA spokesperson in Washington says hiring efforts have been extremely aggressive.

But Shuker says, "They have tried to hire but they lost more officers. We lost 85 officers since January 1, and it keeps going on and on."

TSA says it pays new hires in Philadelphia just over $20 an hour and a $1,000 hiring bonus. But the union says other companies are offering better pay with less stress.

"We're losing them to Amazon, and Amazon should never be in competition with a government agency. We should never be in competition with a Target," said Palmer.

TSA says it sent 15 members of its National Deployment Force to supplement the officer workforce through Labor Day in Philadelphia.

The union says that will hardly make a dent in what's needed.

"It's a disaster. I don't know how we're supposed to do this all through the summer until September," said Shuker.

The warning they're giving the public is: be prepared for longer than usual lines at TSA checkpoints.

And also be mindful of staff shortages some airlines are facing as well.

Officials urge travelers to arrive two to three hours before their flight until further notice.