Roughly 2,000 federal workers at Sea-Tac International Airport are furloughed or working without pay, according to the Port of Seattle. Some of them are turning to food stamps and loans while negotiating with their landlords to give them a break on their rent.
Vanesa Flores and Dorothy Macon are two of the TSA officers who keep passengers safe at SeaTac.
“Today is my day I was supposed to be paid, and I looked at my bank account just hoping and wishing, and there was nothing in there,” Macon said Friday.
Macon, who also supports her disabled mom, spent her day off signing up for food stamps and visiting a resource fair organized by the Port of Seattle.
Companies and non-profits set up booths with credit counseling, free tax help, loans, energy assistance, and help negotiating extra time to pay bills. The fair is open to any federal employee hurt by the partial government shutdown.
“I'm stressed out, I feel like crying, but I have to hold it together because, to be honest, if you let down and you break down it's not going to do anything, you have to be strong, and you have to find ways to make it work,” Macon said.
It's difficult to tell there's a financial crisis slowly creeping into security screeners' lives. Most passengers waited no longer than 15 minutes to cram their belongings into a bin and rush off to their flights.
“I was able to pay rent and everything for January, but February is definitely something I have to get prepared for,” Flores said.
Flores and the thousands of other TSA officers not getting paid while working have every reason to be in a foul mood, but she says getting upset isn't going to help.
“This is a very important job, air transportation, everybody’s safety,” Flores said, “and just because of what's going on around us, that does not mean for any reason that we are going to work less or less hard.”
“It's definitely what we're all trying to strive to do, despite everything that’s going on.”
The fair resumes on Monday. A similar event is planned at the seaport for U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. More info here.