Air traffic controller union official: It’s ‘high price to pay to be federal worker’

The union representing U.S. air traffic controllers said Tuesday the partial government shutdown is having a “heartbreaking” effect on families, arguing “it’s pretty high price to pay to be a federal worker.”

Eddie DeLisle, a regional Vice President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association in the Northwest Mountain region, told Hill.TV that the shutdown impasse is jeopardizing everything from child custody agreements to mortgage payments.

“I was sitting in a meeting last week and a guy had to step out to call his mortgage company to deter a mortgage payment, it’s pretty high price to pay to be a federal worker,” DeLisle told Hill.TV’s Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball on "Rising."

DeLisle added that federal workers used to be able to depend on their jobs for a sense of financial security but argued that’s no longer the case anymore.

“Part of being a federal worker is that you will get paid every two weeks — that kind of job security isn’t what it used to be,” he said. 

DeLisle is an air traffic controller in the Portland area. He said if he was not in his current elected position, he would be working airplanes at the radar approach control.

Air traffic controllers who work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are among the estimated 420,000 federal employees expected to work without pay. 

DeLisle also debunked President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE’s claims that federal works support the government shutdown, saying workers wouldn’t support a stalemate that’s causing harm to their own families.

Trump on Wednesday asserted that workers “agree” with his decision to push forward on demands for a border wall as they go without pay.

“I don’t think working for free is a position that anyone would take to advance any policy, so I don’t buy into that rhetoric,” he told Hill.TV.

DeLisle emphasized the majority of union members are still showing up for work even if it means being on the clock without a paycheck. 

“We’ve not seen an increase in that type of thing — shockingly, it’s right on track with historical national average for this time,” he said.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents some 14,000 FAA workers, filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Friday.

DeLisle said the lawsuit contends that the government is withholding wages and has “unlawfully seized what belongs to the workers we represent.”

“Somebody works for two weeks in this country, you should get paid for the work you’ve done,” he said.

—Tess Bonn

Updated at 12:26 p.m.