Senator Dick Durbin calls for end to shutdown as TSA workers fear they won't get paychecks

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the government shutdown enters its 18th day, there's growing concern that it could be putting our nation's airports at risk.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and several TSA employees along with union representatives held a joint news conference at O'Hare to talk about how this partial government shutdown is affecting workers.

The next scheduled paycheck for TSA employees is Friday, but as the shutdown continues into the week, they may not get paid, so TSA officials are bracing for more workers to call in sick. This comes after the TSA says it saw an uptick in screeners calling in sick calls over the weekend.

However, the local TSA union says it has no knowledge of screeners calling in sick and are assuring the traveling public that they are reporting for duty without compromising security, but they worry about how they'll make it without a paycheck.

"From a security viewpoint though, you have just got to look at this in honest terms, there will come a breaking point for many of these individuals and families," Durbin said. 'Why are we doing this? Why are we pushing them to the point where they have got their minds on their children and who is going to take care of them and who is going to pay for daycare? Why are we pushing them to the point they are wondering if their credit rating is going to be destroyed because they don't make a timely payment on their home, for example."

"I am not getting paid," said TSA employee Christine Vitel. "I just bought a house. I'm not going to be able to pay my mortgage, so yes, this is affecting me personally. Other people are married, they do have another income, I do not."

Twenty-five percent of the government has been shut down since funding ran out at midnight on Friday, December 21.

President Donald Trump says the pain of the partial government shutdown is worth it arguing there is a national security crisis at the southern border and the fight for a wall is critical.

One traveler at O'Hare supports the president and another who believes these kinds of shutdowns are typical politics.

"I think border security is really important and I think that, unfortunately, if we have to make some sacrifices in the meantime, then it's the right thing to do," said traveler Lisa Sweeney."

"Every president before has shut down the government, so what's the difference, you know?" said traveler Tim Mitchell. "That's politics. That's what they all do."

Another traveler disagrees with the president.

"I think this whole Trump shutting everything down, he's a crybaby, you know what I'm saying," said passenger Jonathan Holley. "He wants his way, basically, so he's making everybody else suffer."

Meanwhile, the TSA maintains there is no impact on security at the airports and no impact on wait times.
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