Shutdown affects local workers: ‘It got real for us’

James Harris, an air traffic control systems technician at the Dayton International Airport, went into work on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. for an eight-hour shift of maintaining the equipment used by pilots and air traffic controllers.

After regular two weeks of work, he got a whopping paycheck of $0.00.

Local federal employees are starting to feel the effects of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The partial government shutdown is now in its fourth week with no resolution in sight as President Donald Trump demands money to build his long-promised border wall with Mexico.

» UNMATCHED COVERAGE: Brown: Shutdown hurts federal contractors 

“It got real for us,” Harris said. “We saw zeros on our paycheck. Living on savings, that’s OK for a while. There’s a certain amount of stress, but that stress will only get worse from this point on.”

Harris, who is married with three children, said this is already impacting his day-to-day life. While he feels confident that his family will be able to weather the storm — his wife is a registered nurse — he worries about his coworkers who have just bought homes or struggle on lower wages.

“You tone down what you do with your family,” he said. “There might be a lot more stay-at-home nights watching Netflix, rather than going out to a movie. You have to pay attention.”

“I really thought they’d resolve it sooner,” he said.

While larger airports are having to scramble over unpaid workers calling out sick, the Dayton International Airport is not seeing any delays, said Dayton airport director Terry Slaybaugh. He said there have been no issues with air traffic control or TSA employees not showing up.

“I don’t think were in an area where people won’t show up to work,” he said.

The shutdown comes over the failure of Congress to pass spending bills to fund the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

There are approximately 400 civilian employees in the region who work for those unfunded agencies, according to the June 2018 data from the Office of Personnel Management.


• Why an incoming stealth fighter program could be a 'franchise that goes on forever' for Wright-Patt

• Vets twice as likely to fatally OD – what the Dayton VA is doing about it

• Ohio celebrates Wright Brothers: 'Thanks for the wind, North Carolina'

• 7 things to remember about Wright-Patt false active shooter scenario

• Trump nominates Wright-Patt leaders for appointment

About the Author