UPDATE: Sigh of relief for federal workers

Friday, January 25, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Federal workers are checking their bank accounts and breathing a sigh of relief, for now. President Trump announced this afternoon the government will reopen for three weeks.

Even though it's only January, we could feel the impact during Master’s Week.

News 12 spoke with an air traffic controller who says some even had to take on a second job, so today's news is life changing.

Just a few hours ago almost 80 employees at Augusta Regional Airport did not know when they would get their next paycheck.

“For 35 days now, not getting paid the toll of that, the stress of that is starting to add up, and the morale obviously is going down," said Jonathan Sampson, an air traffic controller and local representative for NATCA.

“We are really waiting for this government shutdown to be over with so we can try to go back to our normal lives,” said Patricia Cousin, a TSA agent.

A few hours later, relief is settling in for both TSA workers and air traffic controllers like Sampson.

“Very pleased that my coworkers and I are going to get paid and that all of our support staff that work with us air traffic wise are coming back to work," said Sampson.

Sampson says aside from the pay, the shutdown was also affecting training during a time when more controllers are desperately needed.

“We do work overtime from time to time and now that this is back open the FAA Academy can reopen and we can get those trainees back in the pipeline to the facilities that are short-staffed," said Sampson.

It was keeping them from planning for Augusta's biggest golf tournament of the year.

“The shutdown did cause a delay in that so we're going to have to cram a lot of work in a short period of time to make sure it goes flawlessly like it does every year," said Sampson.

Which is why Sampson is relieved to hear about the deal, he just hopes it doesn't happen again.

“I just hope this lasts this time and we don't have to do this all over again in 3 weeks," said Sampson.

About 50 employees with TSA and about 30 with the FAA were affected by the shutdown at Augusta Regional Airport.


Thursday, January 3, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Airport workers in Augusta and across the country keep working as the partial government shutdown continues.

The first paycheck workers could miss is on January 15th.

The two groups impacted here are the FAA, who has personnel inside that air traffic control tower, and TSA.

Walking into the Augusta Regional Airport to get on a plane would not be possible without these two groups.

"The TSA employees are responsible for security screening which is obviously an essential task and the FAA employees, they are our air traffic controllers and they also maintain some very sophisticated equipment," said Herbert Judon, the executive director of Augusta Regional Airport.

Right now, 80 TSA and FAA employees at Augusta Regional have no idea when they'll get their next paycheck.

"They are not getting paid but they are considered essential employees so they have to come to work and continue to provide their normal services," said Judon.

They're considered essential for safety.

"Because these jobs are critical for safety and security they are deemed essential," said Judon.

The FAA says they have internal processes to address those who do not report without leave but so far Executive Director Herbert Judon says it looks like everyone's coming to work, regardless of not knowing when they'll get paid again.

Which is why traveling in and out of Augusta is still possible.

“Despite what they're dealing with personally they are very committed, they are troopers through this situation, so they come to work every day and give their all, give their best so I applaud them for that," said Judon.

Employees could lose their jobs if they don't show up. A couple of people told News 12 that it's the second paycheck in February where they would really feel the effects.