UNO Student’s experience flying during the shutdown

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Jeff Turner
CONTRIBUTOR

The government shutdown is over, but the financial stress it caused is still being felt by government workers throughout the country, especially airport employees.

Eppley Airfield had many cancellations and the 35-day shutdown pushed air traffic controllers to their limit, according to reporting by WOWT.

Megan Savvy, a graduate student and mathematics major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha had to fly out to get certified for her job at UNMC Public Safety.

“I was actually surprised that the TSA employees all seemed friendly and in good spirits,” Savvy said. “I went through TSA during the holiday rush, and they seemed way more stressed out at that time. Fortunately, it’s a low travel season and it wasn’t that busy. It may have also helped that I was flying out of smaller airports (Omaha and Rochester, New York).”

There is an assurance in the same report the payments will be given to employees who had to work without pay no later than Thursday, Jan. 31. Megan Savvy had nothing but complimentary things to say about the people who had to deal with the withheld payments.

“I honestly felt pretty guilty about flying during the shutdown. If there had been any way for me to avoid it, I would have,” Savvy said. “I work in security, I know those jobs are not easy and can be really tough at times dealing with the public. They should all be commended for putting on a brave face and showing up to work if they were able, despite dealing with enormous personal difficulties, and putting the public safety first.”

During the shutdown, the Association of Flight Attendants International President Sara Nelson floated the idea of a general strike, this came on a wave of workers coming in sick. Under something known as the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees that are not exempt (those exempt tend to include executive, administrative or professional employees) are required to be paid for all hours that they worked.

Work that is ‘off the clock’ or not paid for is generally illegal, meaning that if people working at the TSA so chose, none of them would have to show up to work during a government shutdown.

Megan Savvy was sympathetic to the plight of the furloughed workers.

“I don’t blame those who had to call in sick,” Savvy said. “Missing two paychecks is a devastating blow for a lot of people- if you don’t have money for gas, how are you supposed to go to work?”

Many of the flight cancellations have also been attributed to the weather. Many flights have been cancelled due to the weather on the East coast and there was at least one documented instance of a plane sliding off the runway due to the ice.

The government has been re-opened on tenuous terms. Both parties are to continue discussing a border security solution with a deadline of Feb. 15, and if a solution is not reached the President could very well shut the government down once more.

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