TSA leaders worry about "tipping point" for workers as shutdown continues

Miami — Screeners at Miami's airport are among the tens of thousands of TSA employees and air traffic controllers working during the shutdown. They woke up Friday to pay stubs showing $0.

"Everybody now is probably at the highest point of anxiety that they've been since this whole thing started. The reality is setting in that we're not going to get paid," said TSA officer Mike Gayzagian.

TSA sick calls are up 54 percent over last year. That's still just 5 percent of workers and the vast majority are on the job. 

Still, Miami's airport will close a concourse until at least Monday, sending TSA officers to busier checkpoints as a precautionary measure.

TSA leaders remain worried about a national "tipping point" when screeners look elsewhere for work.

"It's profoundly unfair and almost disrespectful to put us in the middle of this debate over border security when we have absolutely nothing to do with it," said Gayzagian.

Airlines are stuck in the middle, too. Regional carrier Silver Airways has brand new planes sitting in a Fort Lauderdale hanger.

"Every month that we don't introduce the aircraft, we're losing out on millions of dollars of revenue," said CEO Steve Rossum.

Silver will be the first in the U.S. to fly the ATR turboprops, but that requires FAA certification, which can't be completed during the shutdown. Delta may have to delay the launch of its new airbus A-220s for the same reason.

Some travelers are taking to social media to thank those working without pay, asking whether the TSA officers can get tips or take gift cards. The Pittsburgh airport bought them lunch on Friday.

The union representing 13,000 air traffic controllers became the latest union to sue the Trump administration over the shutdown. Meanwhile, the TSA announced Friday it will be able to pay screeners who worked on December 22, the first day of the shutdown. 

  • Kris Van Cleave

    Kris Van Cleave was appointed CBS News Transportation Correspondent in September 2015 and is based in Washington, D.C.