PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We rely on air traffic controllers every time we take an airplane.
But they are among the federal workers going without pay because of the partial government shutdown.
“Right now, we are working without pay, in hopes basically for an IOU, the promise to pay us later for the work we are doing today,” said Michael Dalmaso, an air traffic controller at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Dalmaso is president of the union representing local controllers, a union that sued the Trump administration for failure to pay them.
Dalmaso’s net paycheck this week — $1.07.
At a taping of the KD/PG Sunday Edition with KDKA money editor Jon Delano and Post-Gazette managing editor Sally Stapleton, Dalmaso said controllers cannot go out and get additional work.
“The stress level is the unknown. That people don’t know what they’re going to do and they don’t know when the end is in sight,” Dalmaso said. “And for us we have to go to work. We’re required to go, so it’s not like we can go do other things to do other things to try to supplement our income. This is our job. This is our career. This is what we are passionate about, and we have to do it.”
Of course, the job of air traffic controller is stressful enough, and Pittsburgh is short-staffed already, says Dalmaso.
“Our staffing number is 36 — is what we should have at our building. We have 31 right now. We have trainees waiting to be trained that are sitting home,” Dalmaso said.
His message to the President and Congress, who are still being paid?
“Like we are doing every day, we’d very much like them to do their job,” Dalmaso said.