The news of a temporary plan to reopen the government didn’t stop TSA workers from protesting in Santa Barbara Friday outside the Santa Barbara Airport in Goleta.
Air traffic safety union representatives spoke to a small crowd about the struggles faced by TSA and air traffic controllers after they missed two paychecks due to the shutdown.
“I have to make decisions about whether I’m going to buy food or medications for my disability,” said Eric Schmidt, a TSA agent and Central Coast Legislative and Political Action Coordinator for AMF.
Schmidt said the plan to temporarily reopen the government and fund agencies like TSA does little to quell concern growing within his industry.
“This is just a bandaid for potentially three weeks,” said Bobby Orozco, a TSA agent and AFGE President. “Three weeks from now, we may be going through this again.”
“It’s not enough time to get their lives back together before they have to do it all over again,” Schmidt said.
Minutes after his plane landed at the Santa Barbara Airport, democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal thanked local TSA members for their work and decried the government shutdown.
“35 days, that’s how long this government has been closed,” Carbajal said. “This was a needless, senseless shutdown. It’s not the way to run our government.”
Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo also addressed the crowd, thanking TSA workers and saying it’s about time the government was reopened.
“I think Washington D.C. heard that labor leaders, workers, and working families in Santa Barbara were organizing today and they said we’d better get that deal signed,” Murillo said to applause.
That short-term agreement announced about two hours before the press conference will temporarily reopen the government for three weeks.
Gas, food, mortgage payments, and loans are among the growing list of financial responsibilities that keep piling on for federal workers, who are fed up with the lack of pay.
“The sadness is turning to anger from a lot of our members,” Orozco said.
Orozco said local TSA staff has been making up for their lost income with secondary jobs, like driving for Uber, and have taken out loans to help pay for bills and other expenses.
So far, operations at airports along the Central Coast are business as usual, but in other major hubs – like Miami and Atlanta – a rash of TSA agents calling out means delays and cancellations.
If Congress arrives at an impasse in three weeks, local TSA may too reach a breaking point.