TSA union boss warns of airport chaos amid hiring freeze

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Transportation Security Administration union workers are worried about longer-than-usual security wait times for spring break travelers as the administration faces a hiring freeze.

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The hiring freeze went into effect after members of the American Federation of Government Employees — the workers union that represents the TSA and other government employees — demanded a collective 3.1 percent living wage increase.

The spring hiring pause will remain in place until April when the administration will begin hiring employees for summer, and the freeze will not impact spring break travel because the administration has already hired enough employees to manage the spring months, TSA told FOX Business.

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"In anticipation of another record-breaking summer travel season, [TSA] is managing resources by prioritizing overtime to the busiest of travel periods. Additionally, TSA will continue to assess applicants for entry into TSA, and will conduct two extended hiring windows to coincide with the busy summer travel season," a TSA spokeswoman told FOX Business.

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But AFGE argues that the hiring freeze is an effort by the TSA to save funds for anticipated summer overtime that will cause delays.

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"We have dealt with severe understaffing for years. A hiring freeze and overtime cap will undoubtedly make lines longer and cause flight delays,” AFGE President Hydrick Thomas said in a statement, according to a Thursday AFGE press release.

TSA precheck fast lane line before security at Reagan National Airport. ( iStock)

The Washington Post reported that despite the fact that the TSA does not have concerns about long spring travel wait times, some airports have already seen the impact of employees working overtime.

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"Because of the low pay, our officers often rely on overtime hours to help make ends meet," Thomas said in his statement. "Now, they will have to do an already difficult job with less staff and no overtime pay. … We lose a large number of officers every month who leave the agency to find better jobs, sometimes in the same airport. We simply can’t afford any gaps in hiring."

Two pieces of legislation introduced in the House and Senate would give TSA workers the same workplace rights as Department of Homeland Security employees, according to the AFGE release.

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