Air traffic controllers, who are working through the government shutdown, won’t be getting a paycheck for their last two weeks of work, their union confirmed Thursday morning.
Pay stubs reading a net pay of zero dollars were distributed Thursday morning, including one for a controller at a major air traffic control hub outside of Washington, D.C. shared with POLITICO.
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Controllers and other aviation industry workers are planning to rally outside the Capitol building Thursday afternoon to call for the shutdown to be halted. They will be joined by several members of Congress from both parties and representatives of the airline industry, among others.
The blitz is intended to up the pressure on lawmakers and the White House to act to end the shutdown. On Thursday morning, shortly before the rally was to start, trade groups for virtually every sector of the aviation industry — airlines, airports, plane owners, business aviation interests and more — released a letter asking for lawmakers to find a way to reopen the government quickly.
“This partial shutdown has already inflicted real damage to our nation’s aviation system and the impacts will only worsen over time,” the three-page letter to Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reads.
Beyond controllers, other safety-critical parts of the aviation workforce are also working without pay, such as the technicians who maintain FAA equipment and TSA’s cadre of baggage screeners. According to their union, some baggage screeners have already begun to quit as financial pressures stack up.
Of course, during other shutdowns, air traffic controllers also worked without pay and the U.S. aviation system remained safe. And so far, anyway, TSA insists screeners calling out sick or quitting are minimal and in any case have not greatly affected wait times at major airports.
The controllers union has said that beyond the lack of pay, the shutdown will also exacerbate long-term staffing problems and delay projects including the implementation of a new communications system for the nation’s air traffic control system.