Shutdown: Federal Workers in N.H. Feel Like Political 'Pawns'

Jan 10, 2019

Despite the partial federal government shutdown, the FAA says Air traffic control is fully operational and there is no impact to traveler safety.

  Federal employees impacted by the government shutdown say they are putting their bills—and their lives—on hold.

Luke Drake, who works for the Federal Aviation Administration and is a union representative of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists in New Hampshire, says he spoke with colleagues who were delaying minor and major financial decisions--including who man whose first house payment is overdue.

“So this is having a real impact,” he said today on NHPR’s The Exchange. “People are worried that their health care benefits may not continue if their premiums aren’t made. They’re worried about contributions to their 401Ks. It makes no sense to anyone why we would go through this again. My understanding is that the 2013 shutdown cost something on the order of $24 Billion.”

The partial government shutdown will be the longest in U.S. history if it goes until Saturday.

Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, says public opinion is important with government shutdowns. "Typically what ends a government shutdown is when one side or another kind of cries uncle," he said.

Highlights of The Exchange discussion on the shutdown:

  • A retired U.S. Coast Guard captain called in to say that some Coast Guard enlisted personnel make low wages that do not keep up with expensive coastal areas where they are stationed. “They gave a blank check to the United States," he said. "The only thing was they expected to be paid on time while they were out risking their lives, rescuing people, enforcing drug laws, and patrolling over int he Arabian Gulf as we speak, playing cat and mouse with the Iranians. I just want to say that it’s a national disgrace that these folks are going to have to worry about rent, food on the table, and living in expensive coastal places.”
  • Mike Gayzagian, a TSA worker and union leader representing TSA agents in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, said workers are being played "like pawns." “It’s going to put a burden on my finances," he said. "I’ll probably have to dip into my savings. People are feeling victimized, really, because it’s really unfair that we’re being thrown into the middle of a political fight that has nothing to do with us.”

 

  • Gov. Chris Sununu's office, in a statement, tells NHPR that there have been minimal, immediate impacts to state government programs as a result. "However, longer-term impacts will be felt depending on the length of the government shutdown."