Furloughed workers protest shutdown

Furloughed workers protest shut-down (PHOTO: KOMO News)

Outside Sea-Tac Airport, frustrated furloughed federal workers, primarily from the FAA, demonstrated against the partial federal shutdown and supported TSA officers who have to work without getting a paycheck.

It comes at a time when frustration has led to many TSA officers to call in sick at other airports.

"This is the face of a person who is furloughed," says Lisa Scheuer, who works at the FAA.

"I would really like to come in and do my job and keep the national airspace safe and I can't do that sitting on my couch," says Nicole Wysong, another furloughed FAA worker.

In a precautionary move, the officials at the Miami International Airport had a partial shutdown of their own. It’s a temporary closure of one terminal for a portion of the day for the remainder of the shutdown because so many TSA officers have called in sick.

That hasn't been the case at Sea-Tac says the local union president representing the TSA workers.

"I'm very proud of the work force here," says Cairo D'Almeida, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1121. "They are able to understand the process, just because someone in the White House says something and that we are going to retaliate, we are not."

At a Sea-Tac Airport sponsored event to help federal employees working without a paycheck, Roger Smith says talk of a sick out is not happening.

"I'm sure they want to, and the longer this goes on, the frustration is kicking," says Smith, a 17-year veteran of the TSA.

KOMO News offered officers a chance to speak freely despite the glare of TSA supervisors who did not want officers to speak to the media.

TSA officers are caught in the struggle not of their making — trying to earning a living and stay loyal their job without getting paid.

"These people are being held hostage," says US Senator Patty Murray, fresh off a plane from Washington D.C. She met with about 10 federal workers effected by the shutdown at the airport's conference center.

"Several of them said to me, 'the security of our nation is at risk' when they are not at work, doing their full job and that is really a tragedy for our country, but it's also a national security issue," Murray said.

"That's what is so ironic about this shutdown, it’s supposed to be about protecting our borders and yet we are the border and we are not getting protected the way it should be," says Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman.

Bowman says the wait times at Sea-Tac have not waivered during the shutdown and praised local TSA workers for staying on the job.

"I’m just thankful of the professionalism of the TSA officers here at Sea-Tac," she said.

The union president representing the TSA officers wants to keep it that way.

"If they call out sick and not getting paid, they're going to get AWOL," says D'Almeida. "AWOL means they may get fired, a lot of them are probationary — I don't want that to happen."

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