No callouts from agents at Kahului Airport despite no pay

TSA worker: Feeling of ohana keeping staff working

KAHULUI — Staffing at Kahului Airport security checkpoints remained at usual levels on Friday due in part to the feeling of ohana and camaraderie, workers at the airport said, though their concerns are growing as some have gotten letters from creditors.

Friday marked the first paycheck missed for federal workers as the partial government shutdown dragged on.

“I know (co-workers) are concerned,” a local Transportation Security Administration supervisor said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because federal workers have been told not to speak to media. “They have letters from the creditor.”

Stress isn’t as high for the supervisor as the person’s co-workers because the federal worker has other sources of income. The worker also has experienced government shutdowns before.

“I’m sure there’s a level of concern for everyone affected, and entry-level employees are probably more concerned because it is new to them,” the supervisor added.

The federal worker, like hundreds of thousands across the nation, was scheduled to receive a paycheck Friday. The paycheck will be the first missed during what is today Day 22 of the partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.

Maui District Airports Manager Marvin Moniz said Friday morning that general operations were continuing normally without significant TSA staff shortages, which were being reported at airports across the nation.

Another TSA official, a safety checker who also wished to remain anonymous, said that there were no substantial callouts Friday at Kahului Airport. The safety checker attributed this to a family mentality where peers won’t leave one another hanging.

“The camaraderie or ohana at OGG is better than anywhere I’ve been,” the safety checker said. “We make do and help each other when HNL or DC should really take better care of us.”

Interisland passenger and Kula resident Naomi Kusachi, who arrived at the airport midafternoon Friday, said the security line flow seemed normal.

“It’s not any busier; seems to be normal for the time,” she said. “Only a few people in both regular (TSA) line and Precheck.”

Other residents have said security checks are taking longer than usual since the furlough started.

Moniz on Tuesday said TSA hasn’t experienced increased shortages other than typical holiday callouts and vacations. Christmas travel tapers after the first week of the year, he said.

Hawaii lawmakers Sen. Mazie K. Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard attended a march with hundreds of federal workers in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, urging the end to the shutdown.

“End this government shutdown to help 800,000 workers and thousands and thousands of contractors get paychecks,” Hirono said in a news release.

Gabbard said that federal employees in Hawaii and across the nation are struggling financially due to the government shutdown.

“They are suffering and struggling, worrying about how to pay medical bills, rent, mortgage and other necessary expenses,” she said in a news release. “These workers are the backbone of our community, providing essential services to ensure our safety, security and well-being.”

Thankfully, the TSA supervisor on Maui is glad to have some funds stored up.

“I actually save for a rainy day,” the supervisor said.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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