Seattle-area federal workers miss first paycheck after shutdown

SEATAC, Wash. — Roger Smith is a 17-year veteran of the Transportaiton Security Administration (TSA) -- and he's now working without a paycheck.

“The mortgage, the utilities, just trying to keep up on the bills, that's the concern,” Smith said.

That's why Smith went to a Resource Fair put together by the Port of Seattle, with banks and utilities offering help to employees who aren't getting paid.

There, he met U.S. Sen. Patty Murray who visited shortly after getting off the plane from Washington, D.C. and after holding a private roundtable with federal workers.

“The safety and security of this nation, the personal impacts, the tears that I saw in there the frightened people because this president at this time has decided to hold their paycheck hostage,” Murray said.

Murray said there is a legitimate debate over the need for the border wall that President Trump wants, but that he should reopen the government while that debate goes on.

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“If we allow a president, at any time … to hold the paychecks hostage of individuals over whatever policy they have, we will be in this kind of debate this kind of shutdown forever, every time we have a budget, every single year and we cannot allow that to occur.”

That means days more without a paycheck for Francisco Gauarez, a 22-year veteran of Customs and Border Patrol who is now looking for help with utility bills.

“I have family and it's difficult because they rely on me for their support,” he said.

The Washington State Employees Credit Union is among those offering help, with immediate small loans, “$1,500, a 30-month payback time frame, so it makes it nice and soft and very digestible,” said Community Relations Vice President Willard Rance.

“At the end of the day, we're all more than likely going to get paid, what did we really accomplish with all of this?” Gauarez asked.

On Friday, the air traffic controllers’ union filed a federal lawsuit to have their pay reinstated immediately, the union for TSA workers filed a similar lawsuit last week.