PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Unpaid but still working, air traffic controllers handed out brochures to the flying public at Pittsburgh International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
“Here, can I give you this. I’m an air traffic controller. Something about the shutdown,” was the refrain controllers told passengers.
Michael Dalmaso, president of the local union of air traffic controllers, said the Pittsburgh action was part of a national effort at selected airports to alert the public to the growing crisis.
“As time goes on, it’s getting tougher and tougher,” Dalmaso told KDKA. ‘The moral in the building is starting to drop. We’ve already missed one paycheck, and as it goes on, it’s going to get harder and harder to be motivated, to come to work, to do your job, which we’ll do because that’s what we do.”
Dalmaso says Pittsburgh is already short-staffed and the shut-down has put a hold on new trainees.
“We have trainees that are awaiting to go to Oklahoma City for training. That’s been shut down.
“We have three controllers that we are bringing in right now that are sitting home, that are furloughed, that are not even allowed to come to work, to be trained.”
Without air traffic controllers, nobody could land or take off at any of our commercial airports. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association wants the public to know they’re tired of working without pay, and they want this shutdown to come to an end.
Most of the flying public agrees.
“I feel bad for the young people who have to pay their mortgages and pay their tuition It just isn’t right,” says Connie Vlah of Cecil.
“These people are professionals who are showing up every day to do their job and make sure we’re going to be okay. It does seem very unfair that they are here every day and not getting reattributed for it, not getting their fair pay, not getting their paychecks,” adds Dan Graziano of Bloomfield.
Dalmaso says the longer this shutdown drags on, the more the flying public will notice.
“The public, the flying, the industry itself will start to slow down just as the natural course of things.”