armcheck TSA.jpg

Employees with the Transportation Security Administration continue to work without pay at Charleston International Airport and other airports across the nation on Tuesday as the partial government shutdown enters its second month. Wade Spees/Staff

Bomb-sniffing dogs still make their rounds throughout Charleston International Airport.

Federal security workers still operate baggage screens and scan passengers for prohibited items.

And they all continue to show up for work without pay as the partial government shutdown enters its fifth week.

Steven Corey oversees 550 Transportation Security Workers at different airports across South Carolina, and the security director said operations continue as normal as affected federal employees approach their second pay period without a check on Friday.

D'Allessandro's Pizza was the first Charleston restaurant to offer free food and soft drinks to TSA workers on Jan. 11 and since then a wave of others has followed.

"It's gotten so much so, we have to schedule them," Corey said. "The outpouring of community support has been overwhelming."

wristcheck TSA.jpg

A Transportation Security Administration agent checks a passenger at Charleston International Airport on Tuesday as the partial government shutdown enters its second month and TSA workers continue to go unpaid. Wade Spees/Staff

About 50 restaurants or food vendors have supplied meals to TSA workers in Charleston, and other services have been offered as well.

Attraction tickets, legal services and diapers and formula for workers with young children are among items supplied or offered to affected employees.

One passenger showed up Tuesday with a bag of free doughnuts to offer TSA agents.

TSA workers don't often get a lot of good remarks for searching people's bags and patting them down, but Corey said the shutdown has changed attitudes.

"You see passengers coming through, patting us on the back and thanking us," Corey said. "It's humbling, quite frankly."

steven corey TSA.jpg (copy)

Steven Corey, director of the Transportation Security Administration for South Carolina, talked about the partial government shutdown at Charleston International Airport Tuesday. Wade Spees/Staff

He said the TSA crews continue to show up because "they are committed to the mission."

"We are seeing a slight increase in those calling in sick across the state, but it's nothing critical," Corey said.

Some of that, he said, was flu-related.

Each worker's financial situation might be different, but Corey said TSA workers are making do for now.

"If they miss another pay cycle, it's going to be hurtful for some folks," he said.

inspector TSA.jpg

Employees with the Transportation Security Administration continue to work without pay at Charleston International Airport and other airports across the nation on Tuesday as the partial government shutdown enters its second month. Wade Spees/Staff

About 160 TSA employees work at Charleston International. Some said Tuesday they have already begun to dip into savings to make mortgage or rent payments. One said her church called to offer help, but she said she was fine for now.

Corey said the agency has a contingency plan in case a number of furloughed employees don't show up work. It involves moving agents from less busy airports to those with more passenger traffic.

In that case, the federal government would have to pick up the tab for housing temporarily relocated workers.

waiting TSA.jpg (copy)

Even with the partial government shutdown, unpaid Transportation Security Administration workers were on the job at Charleston International Airport on Tuesday. Wade Spees/Staff

For now, Corey said there has been no deep impact in South Carolina. He advised travelers to allow a little more time to go through security.

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.


Passengers on Tuesday sympathized with workers continuing to show up without pay.

"I hope TSA will strike so we can get an end to the government shutdown," said Janie Wiltshire of Abbeville as she made her way through the checkpoint for a vacation in the Azores. "Until somebody takes a stand, we won't have an end to this."

When she made it through the security line, she said it was the longest it had ever taken her to get through.

Janie Wiltshire.jpg

Janie Wiltshire of Abbeville said Transportation Security Administration workers should strike to make a point of working without pay so the partial government shutdown might end. She was at Charleston International Airport on her way to a vacation in the Azores. "Until somebody takes a stand, we won't have an end to this." Wade Spees/Staff

Nicole Herrman of Mount Pleasant also said getting through the checkpoint was a little slow.

"But I don't mind it," she said before darting off for a flight to Richmond, Va. "It's for our safety."

Herrman said the shutdown hasn't affected her personally and called working without pay an unsettling prospect.

"I would think after missing two paychecks that it will start to hurt," she said.

Dr. Robert Cain of Austin, Texas, called the shutdown a "major, major burden" for a lot of federal employees.

"Most of these people work paycheck to paycheck," he said as he gathered his belongings for the flight home after going through the checkpoint. "It's unfair."

He called on the president and Congress to reach a compromise soon.

"Hopefully, a decision can be made and the government can reopen," Cain said.

The shutdown has had an uneven impact on U.S. air travel. At Baltimore/Washington, the TSA closed one of its checkpoints over the weekend, reopened it and closed it again Monday afternoon, while Spokane International reported no major disruptions, according to a airport representatives.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise. The Associated Press contributed to this report.