Unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants released an alarming joint statement Wednesday warning that in an “unprecedented” situation like the current shutdown, they can’t predict “the point at which the entire system will break.”
“We cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play,” the statement reads.
Union leaders warn that staffing is already at a “30-year low” and that the system is only limping forward due to unpaid employees working overtime. Without government funding, hiring is impossible and the worker scarcity will only worsen as fewer and fewer people can afford to keep working without pay.
“The situation is changing at a rapid pace,” they write. “Major airports are already seeing security checkpoint closures, with many more potentially to follow. Safety inspectors and federal cyber security staff are not back on the job at pre-shutdown levels, and those not on furlough are working without pay.”
“As union leaders, we find it unconscionable that aviation professionals are being asked to work without pay and in an air safety environment that is deteriorating by the day,” the statement concludes. “To avoid disruption to our aviation system, we urge Congress and the White House to take all necessary steps to end this shutdown immediately. “