The government shutdown is stretching into its second month. TSA workers are still calling in sick so that they don’t have to work without getting paid. USDA workers are calling in sick as well. Air traffic controllers and pilots are now detailing how the shutdown is impacting the safety of the skies as resources are being stretched thin in order to maintain security in airports. Controllers are worried about how they will support their families, making it difficult for them to concentrate on making sure planes take off and land safely. Other workers in airports are concerned about when they will receive a paycheck again, focusing their efforts on trying to find money or looking for other jobs instead of focusing on the work that they need to do at the airport.
This isn’t a scene at only smaller airports. This is a scene that is taking place at airports of all sizes across the country, some that see thousands of passengers each day. There has been a 30-year-low of workers in airports, and the shutdown just made that number even higher. Workers who are at airports are being asked to cover two shifts and work in areas where they haven’t been trained as well as they have in other areas. They are working 10-hour days and often work six days a week. This equates to working 60 hours in a week without receiving any kind of pay.
There is no hiring taking place at airports. There is about 20 percent of airport workers who can go ahead and retire. If they choose to begin their retirement, then airports could be severely impacted even more than they are now. Checkpoints are begin closed at airports. Security officers aren’t working like they should, which means that it’s easier to get past security gates and onto a plane. Oddly, the safety of the country is at the forefront of the reasons behind the shutdown.