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This shutdown has made America less safe

Aviation safety workers want to do our jobs protecting you—and to get paid what we’ve earned. Is that too much to ask?



(Jan. 15, 2019) — I am a proud member and local leader of Professional Aviation Safety Specialists in Washington state (PASS WA3, AFL-CIO). We install, maintain, support and certify equipment and services shared by air traffic control, national defense, homeland security, and customs. We inspect and oversee the aviation industries. We perform essential mission support service resulting in the safest aviation system in the world. Our National Airspace System serves commercial and private aviation and the U.S. military.

Our members love the work we do, and we are proud of our civil service. More than 60 percent of our workforce are veterans, and their work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense is a natural extension of their service to this country.

With staunch loyalty and determination, we have performed through many trying times like 9/11, earthquakes, hurricanes, windstorms, snowstorms, and put the pieces back together in the aftermath. You name the occasion; PASS members in the FAA workforce are there. Services are certified and provided 24 x 7 x 365. During every evening, midnight shift, weekend, and holiday, we are there.

We are still there now, but we are not getting paid. For the past three weeks — and counting — since the longest government shutdown in U.S. history began, some of us have been furloughed and others continue to do their jobs as best they can under extremely trying circumstances, without pay.

Each day that goes by with no compensation, our workforce grows more frustrated, devalued, and distracted about their benefits, their families, their bills, and their futures. We are in this situation through no fault of our own.

And each day that goes by without proper inspections and oversight, the skies — and the flying public — are less safe.

Aviation safety depends on an intricate interrelationship of a highly skilled workforce ensuring certified systems are ready for use, backup services are available upon failure, aircraft and operators are certified and regulations are enforced, and mission support personnel are vigilant to analyze the programs and processes in place to meet our obligations of safety and efficiency to the American public. This is a tall order.

PASS members both working and furloughed are speaking out in news interviews, demonstrations, and congressional visits with professional concerns and personal challenges.

When will the value of the aviation safety workforce be recognized as the asset we are?

More than 1.7 million passengers take to the skies in the United States each day knowing that their plane has been designed, manufactured, tested, and inspected at the highest standards, and so have the pilots, crews, schools, and maintenance centers.

The public deserves that confidence in air safety, but those services have not been in place for more than three weeks now. This is unconscionable.

This shutdown needs to end immediately. We — and the other dedicated federal employees who have been harmed by it — want to go back to work, we ALL want to do our jobs, we want to provide the services that the American people need and deserve, and we want to get paid what we have earned. Is that asking too much?

Monika Warner is Professional Aviation Safety Specialists WA3 Chapter President and Public Relations Chair. PASS represents more than 11,000 employees at the FAA and the Department of Defense.

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