TSA Will Avoid Furloughs for Now, Union Says

Agency is freezing hiring and eliminating overtime to meet budget cuts.

The Transportation Security Administration will not furlough employees for the time being, a union official said Wednesday.

TSA will instead rely on hiring freezes and eliminating overtime hours to meet sequestration cuts, according to Stacy Bodtmann, an American Federation of Government Employees official who represents TSA employees.

Sequestration will still have a significant impact on lines at airports, as TSA agents rely on overtime to keep extra lanes open at security checkpoints, Bodtmann warned during a conference call with reporters.

When asked for comment, a TSA spokesman pointed to a statement the agency put out prior to March 1 -- when sequestration went into effect -- that confirmed the hiring freeze and overtime reduction, but did not address furloughs.  The spokesman declined to comment when asked if he could confirm the union report.

TSA will have 2,600 vacancies as a result of the hiring freeze by the end of the fiscal year, according to the statement.

“With TSA staffing levels decreasing over time, we expect that during busy travel periods wait times exceeding 30 to 40 minutes could double at nearly all of the largest airports,” TSA said.

The Homeland Security Department, TSA’s parent agency, has announced it will send furlough notices to all 60,000 of its employees in Customs and Border Protection, with the forced, unpaid leave set to begin April 21.

AFGE said TSA has not ruled out resorting to furloughs in the future.

This story has been updated with additional details. 

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