Air Traffic Controllers Getting Reduced Pay Due To Shutdown

Oct 15, 2013

Air-traffic control tower at Sea-Tac airport.
Air-traffic control tower at Sea-Tac airport.
Credit Flickr Photo/Tom Collines

For federal employees, Tuesday is payday. But because of the partial government shutdown thousands of federal employees are getting a reduced paycheck.

Among them are air traffic controllers at Sea-Tac airport. They were paid about half of what they would normally get.

Samantha Navarro, president of the local air traffic controllers' union, says right now the controllers don’t need the distraction of worrying about money. 

Navarro is trying to keep morale up, but it’s getting harder as the shutdown drags on. “Just seeing the faces when I walk through the door it’s like, ugh, how do I do it today? Do I have to be creative? I’m not, but I try. So, we’ll see," she said.

For Navarro and her husband, who’s also an air traffic controller, money is tight. But she says for some of her colleagues the situation is much worse.They’re trying to figure out how to put off mortgage payments and other bills. “When they’re the only bread winners in their families, the stress is skyrocketing right now," she said.

According the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for air traffic controllers is $118,000. Navarro says if the shutdown isn’t resolved by Saturday, their next paychecks will be nothing.