Continued Support for Airport Workers During Shutdown

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT  -- Federal workers at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport are getting support from the community as the government shutdown continues.

Air traffic controllers handed out pamphlets to travelers on Thursday to try to help their situation.

It's payday for air traffic controllers at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

"We got our second paycheck for zero dollars and now we're over 34 days without getting paid. So, now the decisions get harder. Before it was, 'what am I going to pay?' Now it is what I can't pay. I now can't pay my electricity this month. I can't pay for gas," said Lenny Ameika, an air traffic controller at the airport.

Ameika also serves as the local president for the national air traffic controllers union. He and other air traffic controllers passed out pamphlets to passengers, encouraging them to contact their local representatives to help end the government shutdown.

"I think it's sad that they have to do it, but I think it is wonderful that they're here. They do a great job for us every day," Paul Strunk said.

A food drive started for airport employees affected by the shutdown last week. Tons of donations have already come in.

On top of that, Town Tavern in Duryea donated lunch to the workers.

"We feel bad because they're sitting there working their 40 hours a week and not getting paid for it. So, this is us giving back to them," said Town Tavern worker Ashley Waters.

The Air Traffic Controllers Association worries that if the shutdown continues, the safety of flights across the county could be compromised. Passengers have the same fear.

"I think the quality of service has stayed the same, but how much longer? Not much longer, I don't think," Strunk said.

"If we make a mistake, it's catastrophic, so we can't make a mistake and we're stressed out and you're going to start seeing delays because the system has to suffer because we can't put people's lives at risk knowing that we're stressed out, so we need to work within our means, so if that means a little bit less, then that's what we have to do," Ameika said.

If you would like to donate to the federal workers affected by the shutdown, there are still bins set up at the airport.

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