BOISE, Idaho — Federal workers charged with protecting airline passengers as they fly out of Boise say the partial government shutdown is creating anxiety.
Uncertainty is causing TSA officers frustration and stress, KTVB-TV reported. They are required to work without knowing when they’ll be paid again, said Rebecca Wolf, executive vice-president of the Local 1127 union chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees.
“Never did I think that we would be this far into a shutdown where I’m struggling and trying to figure out what we’re going to do,” Wolf said. “I’m not going to lie — I’ve cried a little bit here and there. But, you know, I’ve got a family to take care of. I have to do what I have to do. And you just keep going. There’s nothing else I can do.”
About 800,000 have been idled by the partial government shutdown. Workers missed an entire paycheque already and many are not hopeful they will get one this week.
“The officers have to show up, we have to be there,” Wolf said. “We’re here to protect and serve.”
Wolf started working for the TSA right after 9-11. Her single income provides for seven people in her household.
“Non-essential” federal employees are furloughed, meaning they don’t work and do not get paid.
“We have families, you have childcare, you have to get gas to get back and forth to work, rent,” Wolf said. “Landlords have bills, too, so there’s a lot of worry and stress as far as are the landlords going to work with us or not.”
As the shutdown continues, workers do not have money for prescriptions and other needs, she said.
“It’s scary thinking about having to be homeless because you can’t pay your bills,” Wolf said. “I know people have talked about selling their vehicles, pawning their items.”
TSA officers already suffer from low morale, she said. They are some of the lowest paid in the federal government and most live paycheque to paycheque.
Federal workers will get paid when the shutdown ends, she said, but some are taking on another job to pay for living expenses.
“You would hope that being leaders of this country they would act grown up. We took an oath, they took an oath, but we’re the ones suffering because they can’t get it together,” Wolf said. “It hurts my heart, it really does. Because this is not the America that I grew up to know and love.”
Information from: KTVB-TV, http://www.ktvb.com/
The Associated Press