OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — It’s not the first government shutdown for Luster Harris, a Transportation Security Administration agent at Oakland International Airport for the past 14 years. But Harris says this one is different because there’s no end in sight.

Harris is furloughed but required to go to work because he’s considered to be among the essential personnel. Most of his TSA colleagues are still showing up every day, but some have been calling in sick. Harris said it’s not because they have bad attitudes but because they have long commutes and child care and limited funds for both.

Other TSA workers are not required to go to work, so people are being shuffled around to try and take up the slack and Harris said that is causing some delays and paperwork backlogs.

“Everything is slowing down a little bit,” Harris said.

As for the president’s concern over a border wall, Harris believes it is misguided.

“Yes, we need border security, but you’re missing out on the security of other things,” Harris said. “All our services are not running so some things are not being checked like they should be.”

On Monday, a weapon somehow got through airport security in Atlanta onto a Delta flight. Harris said he is not surprised and is worried that could happen here.

“So far, God bless, nothing has happened,” Harris said. “but there’s no telling when somebody with ill intentions may try something or sneak something on board and we don’t have the personnel to catch it. At least, not right now.”

Harris has six other family members who work for the federal government, including both parents and a brother. Most of them don’t live in the Bay Area and since they are in the same predicament, Harris doesn’t have the ability to go to them for help.

“Usually, you would pass around the hat. ‘Can you give me 20 bucks, can you loan me 50 bucks?'” said Harris. “But we’re now doing that to each other, and so it’s making it really difficult.”

Harris knows from experience he will likely be paid retroactively, but says the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any progress on the negotiations makes it difficult to stay optimistic.

He has begun looking for other work while hoping the shutdown will end soon.

“I don’t know about everybody else, but I can go so long,” Harris said. “I was able to pay off all my bills this month, but next month in February, I just don’t have it.”

Comments (33)
  1. Bob Suyak says:

    Bet he is a democrat, so care what he says or thinks.

  2. Dee Win says:

    “Undercover investigators working for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) managed to sneak fake guns, knives and explosives through checkpoints earlier this year, getting the mock weapons through a depressing 70% of the time”


    So, what’s new??????

  3. Mark Mach says:

    Good. This proves Air Marshals can do the job and we no longer have to foot the TSA bill or put up with their employees. NEXT!

  4. Pegon Zellschmidt says:

    Does this mean my crotch won’t get fondled and my luggage items won’t be stolen? And I thought we weren’t supposed to worry about muslims, anymore?

  5. Dave Clark says:

    I just went thru security at MKE and PHX and let me tell you they were on it. The lines were not al that long and they were very through. If anything they were more efficient. I made certain I shook as many hands and expressed thanks to as many as I could as I didn’t want to break their rhythm. They are and were true professionals.

    1. Dan Purcell says:

      Good, you can have them…not everyone identifies with their prison guards.

  6. Bruce Harwell says:

    The TSA is a joke anyway. They should be collecting carts on a Walmart parking lot instead of holding a position with any responsibility. During drills, they miss more than SEVENTY PERCENT of “suspicious package” decoys. Their absence endangers no one; to date, they have prevented NOT A SINGLE terrorist attempt. Not one!

  7. tngilmer says:

    The TSA was never designed to actually protect us from anything. It is Kabuki theater to condition the sheeple to submit to abuse by the government. The TSA was created by Bush 43 to fool the people into believing he was doing something to protect them but in reality was a vehicle for the rich RINOs who supported him to sell worthless and unusable security equipment to the Federal government and to enrich themselves at taxpayer expense. It was continued by Obama to provide a make work program for his supporters too stupid to make hamburgers. Terminate the TSA and their arrogant and useless employees and turn security over to the airlines.

  8. Like things weren’t getting through before the shut down? I think there was a gun found on board way before the shut down. Because TSA is perfect. But funny how we need TSA guarding our airports yet nobody is allowed to protect our borders? Those on the ground tell us we need a wall

  9. Chuck Shults says:

    Here’s an idea – privatize the companies. Simply add regulations that require these airports to comply. Why should these jobs be owned by the government?

  10. The threat that things will be missed because of the shutdown is disingenuous, seeing that TSA misses anywhere between 70 and 95% of all items tested by their own Red Teams. If you’re now saying that you’re actually checking bags LESS thoroughly because of the shutdown, then that’s an actual crime. https://www.heritage.org/transportation/commentary/heres-how-bad-the-tsa-failing-airport-security-its-time-privatization

  11. Dave Roetman says:

    So…. nothing has changed.

  12. Considering the amount of weapons that already get into planes this is not a problem.

  13. Dan Purcell says:

    That’s because they are a lazy and unnecessary government appendage…Fire them if they leave work…Reagan fired all the Air Traffic Controllers and we survived that.

  14. Brad Michael Tankersley says:

    The sky is falling.

  15. LOL the low IQ granny & child molestors of the incompetent TSA fail annual exams for proficiency every year.

    Spare me the sob story.

    The government is too large, keep it shutdown.

  16. TSA has always been a bad joke, SO with the TSA molesters not showing up for work that means less personal belongings are being stolen…

  17. Ann Larsen says:

    “Harris has six other family members who work for the federal government, including both parents and a brother.”

    Apparently none among the seven of them was able to process that their specific reality included the risk of a government shutdown – and none of them could figure out that their job was considered “non-essential”?

  18. Reed Thompson says:

    In other news, theft by TSA employees at a an all time low….

  19. Richard Malloy says:

    Oh no! Someone may get a full sized tube of tooth paste on a plane!

  20. C. Paul Gallagher says:

    Let the airlines run security at the boarding point (privately). Get rid of the cattle pens and the long lines that affect everyone.