SEA-TAC AIRPORT, Wash. - The union representing Transportation Security Administration agents at Sea-Tac airport says one of their members has quit because of the government shutdown and others are considering how long they can work without pay.
TSA agents and air traffic controllers are designated as essential personnel who have to work without pay during the shutdown, and they don't know when they will get their next paycheck.
Alex Navarro is an air traffic controller at the regional center in Auburn and a local union leader.
“Safety is still at an all-time high. Efficiency is still at an all-time high. It's just trying to fight back the doubt and the worry of not getting that pay check,” said Cairo D'Almeida, a TSA agent and president of Local 1121 of the American Federation of Government Employees.
TSA checkpoints are still open, but officers got their last paycheck last Friday.
“Before the shutdown, one officer quit. Soon after the shutdown, one officer came up to me and said, 'Are these the proper forms for me to apply for welfare?'”
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American Federation of Government Employees is suing to force the federal government to pay them during the shutdown.
“They come to work, they're supposed to come to work, they must come to work and they are coming to work. Why is it they are not getting paid?” said D'Almeida.
Navarro is married to another an air traffic controller, and they are raising two children without either paycheck.
“The bills haven’t come yet to be a problem, but we know that that's there in the back of our heads, and as they day goes on, the shutdown grows longer, it's getting more pronounced. We worry about it but we don't focus on it, when we're at work,” Navarro said.
As the shutdown wraps up its 12th day, there is no sign of an agreement to end it.
Asked who his members blame, D’Almeida responded, “Right now, they are blaming the president alone. They are not blaming the Republicans or Democrats.”
AFGE won double pay for employees the last time they sued for pay during a shutdown. There is no guarantee that will happen this time.
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