FAA workers at LAX say government shutdown already taking its toll

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the government shutdown continues, it's beginning to take a toll on Federal Aviation Administration employees who are working without pay.

"The union is outraged because we are unaware of when we're going to get paid," Cesari Vallente said.

Vallente is one of 420,000 federal employees deemed essential and working unpaid during the partial closure.

"I'm deemed essential because I'm trying to protect the safety of the public and protect federal property," he said. "It is stressing me out because I'm constantly thinking about when I will get paid. It degrades my performance on doing my duties."

He works for the FAA and spoke to Eyewitness News on behalf of his union PASS, which represents aviation inspectors, system specialists and aeronautical professionals.

Vallente said he's unhappy with how the shutdown is taking its toll on union aviation workers.

"This is very dangerous because they can't perform their duties and we rely on them for support, for parts, new test equipment, new procedures in case those come down and new modifications," he said.

Union workers like him are responsible for installing, maintaining, certifying and inspecting the nation's aviation system.

"We monitor the radars, the radios, the navigational systems for LAX," he said.

Outside of the thousands of employees who are forced to work without pay, an additional 380,000 have been furloughed and aren't working at all. Some of those sitting at home are Vallente's fellow union aviation workers, who he believes are critical to helping him keep people as safe as possible in the air.

"Right now, we're OK. But if this prolongs any longer, we will suffer. Maintenance will degrade, systems will degrade. There will be delays. A lot of the flying public will be mad," he said.

Vallente is also a veteran and he said many of his fellow aviation workers are also veterans. He said they are all suffering and scared about when they'll get paid, which is also creating anxiety.
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