WINDSOR LOCKS, CT — A day after the presidents of three aviation unions warned that they had growing concerns about airway safety, members of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists were handing out leaflets explaining the risks at Bradley International Airport.
Outside the Delta terminal, aviation safety specialists who work on the radar systems that the air traffic controllers use to help flights land and take off safely had formed a picket line Thursday and called on the public to pressure their lawmakers to end the shutdown.
“The public has been very sympathetic,” Jeanine Murphy, an airways safety specialist, said.
But she said they feel caught in the middle of an impasse.
“We’re pawns,” Murphy said.
The stress levels are increasing as workers prepare to miss their second paycheck since the shutdown began Dec. 22.
Christopher Scofield, an airway transportation systems specialist, said he was able to pick up some additional work driving a zamboni at a local ice rink, but it’s not enough yet to pay for a new washer. He said his washer broke during the second week of the shutdown and he’s been doing laundry at his sister-in-law’s home.
He said his family has been able to prioritize their bills at the moment, but he’s considering an interest-free loan from one of Connecticut’s banks if the shutdown continues.
“It could end tomorrow or a month from now,” Scofield said.
U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, who had just flown back to Connecticut for the weekend, said they’re going to continue to put legislation in front of the U.S. Senate to get them to act.
The House has voted five times on bills to re-open the government.
“It’s gotten insane,” Larson said. “This makes no sense. Open the government and let’s sit down and negotiate.”
He said the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, like the ones picketing outside of Bradley on Thursday, are under an enormous amount of pressure and the more the public becomes aware of this the more pressure will build on Congress to open the government.
“In our risk-averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented,” the presidents of the three aviation unions said Wednesday in a statement.
Larson said they are doing everything they can to make sure the airways are safe.
“What other democratic parliamentary body in the world closes its own government?” Larson said.
Larson said they shouldn’t get caught up in the semantics of border security.
“Let’s address border security, but let’s also address the humanitarian concerns that exist there,” Larson said.
He said border security doesn’t necessarily mean a wall.
President Donald Trump dismissed that idea in a tweet: “Very simply, without a Wall it doesn’t work.”
“Governance by Twitter is no way to run a nation,” Larson said.