HUNTSVILLE, Ala – When it comes to air travel, safety is a priority. It’s why transportation security officers have been deemed ‘essential’ and must work during the government shutdown even though they are not getting paid. Friday’s paycheck will be the first one officers across the country are going to miss as the shutdown continues.
Local Transportation Security Officer Sandra Snell says the thought of not getting a paycheck is causing many of her fellow transportation security officers to ask themselves hard questions.
“Am I going to have enough money to put gas in my car,” she wondered. “Am I going to have to have enough money to feed my kids, to pay daycare?”
These are an example of just some of the questions they’re asking themselves as the government shutdown continues. Their paycheck that’s supposed to arrive at the end of the week won’t be there.
“It’s very hard,” Snell said. Snell also serves as the women’s and fair practice coordinator for the union, AFGE Local 555.
Sandra Snell says furloughed government employees may be able to file for unemployment, but they don’t fall into that category.
“We’re working,” she explained. “So filing for unemployment doesn’t make much sense for us,” she said.
Despite that, they continue to come to work. They say what they do is more than a job, it’s a duty.
It’s a duty that everybody takes seriously according to Transportation Security Officer Gerald Priest, who serves as the legislature and political coordinator for AFGE Local 555.
“The oath they took January 4th, each and every one of those congressmen, we took the same exact oath,” he stated. “We all take the same oath to serve our nation against foreign and domestic and we’re here to do our duty.”
That’s why they are sticking it out through the shutdown. Snell says there are 60 TSO’s in Huntsville, 1,400 represented by the union, and 50,000 across the country, and they’re all hoping the shutdown ends soon.