Absences among U.S. airport screeners jump as shutdown drags on

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Almost 800,000 federal workers across the country are either on furlough or working without pay through the shutdown, as thousands now apply for unemployment, CNBC reported.

Keys is part of the almost 1,200 TSA workers at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport who are considered essential employees.

TSA officials said despite fewer numbers, screeners aren't getting lax about their work.

There have been reports from some airports of Transportation Security Administration officers calling in sick, leading to long security lines or closed checkpoints during the shutdown.

"Our wait times have been normal and operations have been smooth so far, but the partial closure is being done in an abundance of caution", airport spokesman Greg Chin said Friday.

The screeners are among the lowest-paid federal employees.

Chin said Terminal G will close at 1 p.m. Saturday, reopen for flights Sunday morning and close again at 1 p.m. that day.

But that could change as the stress of working without being paid takes its toll on these island residents.

According to a spokesperson for the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey, it is TSA employees and airline employees who have control over music at certain terminals of the airport.

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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) filed a lawsuit on Friday, accusing the White House of depriving their members "of their hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process".

TSA agents are among the 420,000 federal workers considered essential employees required to work without their paychecks. Now, some are quitting altogether, their union says.

They can only be called back to work if there is a "reasonable likelihood" of a life-threatening safety issue.

At New York's LaGuardia Airport, fliers had to wait in almost hour-long security lines on Sunday.

'While I realize this is not what you are owed for your hard work during pay period 26 and what you deserve, I hope these actions alleviate some of the financial hardship many of you are facing, ' Pekoske tweeted.

"Passengers are encouraged to arrive early and give themselves extra time to check in for their flights and to clear the security checkpoints".

The FAA and the U.S. Department of Justice, which defends the federal government in court, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tampa International Airport is working with different agencies to set up a food pantry, get bus passes and work with utilities to help hundreds of federal employees who may be struggling to pay bills.

Five inches of snow in New Jersey and ice-covered roads as far south as North Carolina made for risky driving conditions in other parts of the country.

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