TSA hiring freeze leads to travel concerns

TSA hiring freeze leads to travel concerns

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A move by the federal government is causing serious concerns over air travel after it forced TSA to temporarily stop hiring any new agents and not allow any staffers to work overtime.

TSA agents work to keep travelers safe by screening luggage and sometimes, even the person to make sure they don’t have anything dangerous on them.

Scott Robinson is not only a TSA agent but a representative for the American Federation of Government Employees, the union that fights for officers’ rights to keep them on the job.

This week, the federal government put some restrictions on the agency as it works to cut costs. Right now, TSA is not able to hire any additional staff or allow agents to work overtime. It’s leading to fears that it may take longer to get through security when flying.

“You’re going to have officers who are very overworked, who are having difficulties making ends meet because sometimes they’re relying on those overtime hours,” Robinson said.

Robinson believes this will cause longer lines as agents work to do more with less help. He also says it is coming when morale is already low at many airports.

“It will cause an increase to wait times and it has the potential to negatively impact an officer’s ability to do his job...You’re going to see the issues that are kind of contributing to high turnover being exacerbated. There’s going to be more of a demand for overtime, which is also being frozen," Robinson said.

The TSA confirmed the need to prioritize overtime in anticipation of a record-breaking summer travel season. TSA officials say the hiring freeze should not have an impact during the spring travel season however because the agency already hired agents that are now on the ground.

TSA says the hiring freeze will be lifted in April, with more staff coming on board to prepare for the summer travel season.

Robinson says low pay and morale lead to a revolving door with employees coming and going no matter the season.

“Some airports have significantly higher turn over than others,” He said.

The TSA says the hiring freeze will be lifted in April, with more staff coming on board to prepare for the summer travel season.

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