Local federal workers miss their first paycheck in government shutdown

ATLANTA — For the past five years, David Kirsch has worked to ensure Atlanta Airport runways are safe. Now the Marine veteran says he’s having tough conversations with his colleagues and wife.

“It’s the sad truth, but we may need to consider selling our home,” Kirsch said on Friday.

Hours earlier, Kirsch had taken a look at his first paycheck to read $0.00, joining 800,000 other unpaid federal workers who are grappling with the partial government shutdown.

The shutdown, rooted in a political standoff over southern border wall funding, is set to become the longest in U.S. history on Saturday, when it will move into its 22nd day.

[READ: Government shutdown could impact air traffic planning ahead of Super Bowl]

Kirsch, who doubles as local chapter president for the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists Union,
echoed colleagues in citing low morale amid the uncertainty. The union represents personnel who maintain runway operations and inspect planes.

"The stress is pretty intense," he told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr.

Earlier in the week, Carr spoke with air traffic controller Dan McCabe, who noted the same morale problems among his colleagues in Metro Atlanta.

They’re charged with coordinating 1,500 extra flights a day for the Super Bowl, but planning for the flight surge has ended because of the shutdown.

McCabe’s national NATC union sued the Trump administration on Friday over workers’ missed pay.


Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for GoFundMe confirmed the online fundraising site has dedicated a team to verify a surge in campaigns centered around the government shutdown.

“We deploy proprietary technical tools and have multiple processes in place to verify the identity of campaign organizers and the beneficiary of the campaign,” wrote Katherine Cichy in an email to Channel 2.

“Before money is transferred, an individual’s information, including their banking information, must be verified by our payment processor.”

The government has taken down online advice to workers that they barter with creditors during the shutdown, but has provided alternate sample letters on how to negotiate late payments.

Kirsch and McCabe told Carr those negotiations only go so far.

“We have all these obligations that we need to maintain with our debtors and, honestly, we’re at that point where we just don’t know what to do,” Kirsch said, saying his mortgage lender offered a 15-day extension.

Passengers speaking with TSA agents in Atlanta’s airport Friday say they stand with federal workers in saying enough is enough.

“I have to applaud them for wanting to come out and do a job, but you can’t have the best of attitudes when you don’t know how you're gonna pay your bills, or when you’re gonna get another check,” said passenger Anita Boswell.

“To me that’s what really makes a crisis -- 'What? We’re sittin’ up here talkin’ about an emergency?” she continued, as she and her family made their way through the Domestic Terminal. “That’s an emergency when you’ve got almost a million people that’s off work.That’s what needs to be addressed immediately."

“I’m not happy with it at all,” said passenger Shaun White. “If it affects them, it affects all of us.”

Local lawmakers weigh in on government shutdown

As the partial government shutdown continued with no end in sight, members of Georgia’s congressional delegation are weighing in on the controversy, and their responses are following party lines.

Georgia’s U.S. Sen. David Perdue issued a statement condemning the shutdown but supporting the president’s call for a new border wall.

“It should not have come to this point,” Perdue wrote. “Congress should have already handled border security and disaster relief for Georgia and other states impacted by historic hurricanes and wildfires last year. President Trump is right to call the situation on the southern border a national security crisis, and he is going to hold the line. I am working with the Trump Administration to secure the border, find a solution to fund the government and minimize the effect on all federal departments that are impacted.”

Friday, Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson joined other senators in re-introducing legislation that would prevent future government shutdowns.

“It is wrong to continue the constant threat of a government shutdown, and Americans should expect their government to function and budget responsibly,” Isakson wrote in a statement. “This is one proposal that will work to end these irresponsible shutdowns that harm Georgians and Americans.”

Other lawmakers took to Twitter to express their views on the shutdown and the proposed border wall.

“It’s time to end this shutdown and fund the federal government,” Rep. David Scott, D),13th District, tweeted.

“Small business owners and every taxpayer deserves a government that works,” Rep. Lucy McBath, D), 6th District, tweeted.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R, 11th District, tweeted, “The president is right. We need to build the border wall.”

“It’s time to end this shutdown,” Rep. Doug Collins, R, 9th District, tweeted. “It’s time to come together and secure our border.”