On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I ask that you vote YES on the Continuing Resolution to open the government until February 8th. TTD unions represent hundreds of thousands of federal transportation workers who have either been furloughed or working without pay for over a month and are now at risk of missing their second consecutive paycheck. This short-term CR will make these dedicated public servants whole and allow them to continue to work on behalf of the American public while allowing Congress and the Administration further time to solve the underlying conflict that has led to this unfortunate shutdown.
Now in its 34th day, the partial government shutdown is wreaking havoc on the transportation sector, and its federal workforce in particular. It is a testament to federal employees that the general public and elected officials are not feeling more effects themselves. In the aviation sector alone, air traffic controllers, FAA safety inspectors and system specialists, and Transportation Security Officers have continued to serve our country by keeping our aviation system safe, secure and running efficiently. They continue to perform their duties despite not knowing when they will be paid for their work, while others remain furloughed. That Congress and the Administration have allowed this to go on for over a month is simply unconscionable.
Furthermore, every minute that the shutdown continues puts further strain on the system and its employees, putting the flying public and airlines at greater risk. It is impossible to sustain the largest and safest aviation network in the world when thousands of critical employees remain furloughed and thousands more are working without pay. The shutdown has also shuttered training academies for FAA workers, furthering a staffing crisis that could take years to solve.
We also continue to see the consequences of the shutdown in other areas of transportation. From smaller rural transit systems in Arizona and North Carolina to the largest systems in New York and California, public transportation agencies are being forced to consider reducing service, furloughing workers, or even shutting down altogether. The lack of funding threatens the existence of the Maritime Security Program, a key component of our national security that provides critical U.S. sealift capabilities. Credentialing facilities for U.S. maritime workers have already been shut down, preventing mariners from receiving or renewing essential documents. The National Transportation Safety Board has been unable to investigate 87 accidents since the shutdown, leaving important evidence lost or unexamined and debilitating the NTSB’s ability to ensure safety across all modes of transportation. These and other problems will only get worse the longer the shutdown continues.
The short-term CR being voted on today will at least offer a temporary reprieve from this madness, and fulfill the most basic contract of our economic system: that you are paid for the work you perform. This CR does not solve the political crisis the country currently finds itself in, but it does offer federal employees a small portion of the loyalty and dedication that they have offered the government and the American people. Vote YES on the CR.
Larry I. Willis