AP NEWS

Valley International Airport not affected by ‘Blue flu’

January 19, 2019

HARLINGEN — TSA agents inspected baggage and checked passengers entering the flight gates at Valley International Airport like any other day.

It looked like all hands were on deck.

However, right now, those employees are not being paid for their work.

In Harlingen, flights were not delayed and most people arriving or departing were not feeling the effects of the government shutdown.

Chris Hammond flew into Harlingen on Tuesday. He said the shutdown is not affecting him personally, but it is hurting his cousin, who is a TSA agent in New Jersey.

“ I disagree with it and everything that is going on,” Hammond said as he waited for his ride.

About 800,000 federal government employees are affected. TSA agents, Border Patrol agents and other essential personnel are working, but they didn’t receive a paycheck this past Friday.

However, when the government is re-opened they are expected to receive back pay.

Some are struggling without their regular paychecks.

Wednesday, large airports reported TSA agents called in sick, requiring people to arrive for their flights up to three hours ahead of time.

“ The thing is, they are not being paid,” Hammond said. “Everybody has bills to pay and a family situation to take care of.”

TSA agents at Valley International Airport would not comment on their situation.

Las Vegas resident Craig Fitzgibbons was traveling back home and said the government shutdown doesn’t bother him.

“ It impacts your cash flow temporarily,” Fitzgibbons said.

He said the federal employees will get paid, and he can put up with a delay at the airport. He believes TSA agents should have never been government employees in the first place.

He said he was a government employee for the Department of Defense before he retired and believes the government would have saved millions of dollars had the government contracted TSA employees privately.

“ It’s a good opportunity for Americans to realize that government isn’t needed all the time,” Fitzgibbons said. “TSA is expected to come to work. If you’re a federal worker you show up for work.”

rgarcia@valleystar.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly