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One Thousand TSA Workers Still Owed Money From Government Shutdown

TSA workers attend a food bank put on by the Promise Church in Chula Vista, J...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS News

Above: TSA workers attend a food bank put on by the Promise Church in Chula Vista, Jan. 16, 2019.

More than a month after the end of the 35-day government shutdown, some federal employees who worked without pay still have not received all of the back pay they are owed. The Transportation Security Administration says the problem affects two percent of the 51,000 TSA workers who kept airport security moving during the longest government shutdown in American history.

The average TSA worker makes $35,000 according to the Department of Homeland Security. Ron Gerber is one of those affected TSA workers in San Diego.

"It was hard, it was hard to make ends meet. The uncertainty was really bad," Gerber said.

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Gerber is the local steward for the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing TSA workers. He said he's owed anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in back pay. He also said because of overtime and different hourly wages, it's hard to figure out exactly how much money each employee is missing.

"I'm not even sure which pay period I'm missing because during the furlough everything was wiped out. So when I looked at my results of my pay, I had zero sick time accrued and zero leave. Everything went back to zero and in fact, all our earnings went back to zero, so that confused everyone," Gerber said.

A TSA spokesperson said 1,000 workers require some sort of pay correction. In a written statement to KPBS, the agency said:

"To help support our employees during the 35 days of the lapse in funding, TSA processed partial payments to its frontline employees. Coincidentally, the payment was processed on the very same day the partial shutdown ended. Of the 60,000 employees, unfortunately, 2 percent have experienced pay discrepancies. This partial payment was complicated by a payroll process that goes from TSA to the National Finance Center (NFC). TSA leadership assumed this risk and made the best decision given the circumstances and information at the time. TSA has been in contact with impacted employees to ensure these issues are resolved."

Gerber said he has not heard anything from TSA. Workers in San Diego did receive an email from local human resources representatives that said they are not able to assist impacted workers and that workers should not continue to reach out to the national human resources branch of the TSA.

"We the workers are now stuck with nowhere to turn," he said. "We can't go national, we can't go local and we're just supposed to wait which is what we did in January, wait for it to be over."

This week the national union called on impacted workers to submit a form to notify them of any continuing back pay issues. Gerber and his coworkers hope that they can help find a way to get them their money soon. The local chapter of the union plans to give out grants to workers who are impacted.

A spokesperson for TSA said two percent of its employees still need some sort of pay correction more than a month after the government reopened.

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