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TSA giving unpaid screeners $500 bonus during the government shutdown

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will give its screening officers a $500 bonus during the government shutdown. TSA administrator David Pekoske made the announcement Friday evening on Twitter.

TSA staff have been working unpaid since the government shutdown commenced on December 22. Even though the workers are eligible to receive back pay once the shutdown is over, many live paycheck to paycheck.

“I have approved awards of $500 for each uniformed screening officer, in recognition of their hard work during yet another busy holiday travel season, maintaining the highest of security standards during an extraordinary period,” Pekoske said on Twitter. “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.”

TSA officers will see the money “in the next few days,” he added.

According to Pekoske, the payment was made possible by the “unique authorities provided TSA in law.”

TSA administrator David Pekoske (center).
AP Photo/Richard Vogel

In addition, the TSA administrator announced on Friday that compensation for employees who worked on December 22, the first day of the shutdown, has been processed. Since that date is part of a previous pay period, TSA employees will receive payment by this upcoming Tuesday.

Pekoske also thanked his employees for their hard work amid their personal and professional difficulties.

“To every TSA employee — despite personal hardships and professional challenges, we’ve rallied and never once compromised the security of our nation’s transportation systems,” he said.

TSA employees and their union have reported experiencing extreme financial hardship during the shutdown. This has resulted in a number of its staff calling out of work.

Read more: Miami’s airport is shutting down one of its terminals this weekend over a shortage of TSA screeners amid the government shutdown.

The TSA workers’ union president, Hydrick Thomas, has said workers are calling out at higher rates because of financial hardship.

“TSA employees aren’t calling out intentionally,” TSA workers’ union president, Hydrick Thomas, told Business Insider last week. “They are calling out because they don’t have the funds to make it work.”

The agency told Business Insider that the number of employee callouts on Thursday was up 55% over the same day last year.

Even though the callouts represent just 5.1% of the agency total employees, it has caused enough of a disruption for Miami International Airport to close one its terminals for part of this weekend.

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