Mike: People Impacted by Trump's Government Lockout
A TSA employee says he is putting his life on the line each day and it is an insult that he isn't getting paid
Day 18 of the government shutdown is here and over 800,000 federal workers are locked out or are being forced to work without pay. One such employee is Mike Gayzagian who is a TSA agent and therefore deemed ‘essential.’ UCOMM’s Kris LaGrange sat down to talk with him about the impact the lockout is having on his job, family, and co-workers.
Q. Where do you work?
I work at Logan Airport in Boston. We are a very big airport, one of the biggest in the country. Every day about 15,000 people pass through each terminal and we have 5 terminals, so probably about 75,000 people each day go through our airport.
Q. Is this your first shutdown?
No, I have been with them for 10 years, this is my second shutdown after 2013. The last one went on for 16 days.
Q. This one seems to get more attention?
Yes, this one does, I don’t remember why the last one happened, but this is getting more.
Q. Did you prepare for lack of pay?
I am going to have to dip into my savings and rely on my wife’s income to pay the bills.
Q. The reasons for the lockout, how important is that to you?
I care about what is going on up here in Boston, so what goes on down on the border is not my concern. I am concerned about the people up here. I need to focus on my co-workers.
Q. A few GOP Congressmen protected Trump by saying that the entire law enforcement community agrees with him. Do you know anyone supportive of it?
I don’t know anyone, they have their opinions about the border, but my field is airport security, not border security.
Q. What is it like going to work not knowing when you will be paid?
It is nothing but anxiety, the uncertainty of your finances is at the front of your head. TSA has a unique mission and every time a bag comes in and we open it, it could be an explosive device. So, it is disrespectful to say you won’t be compensated for putting your life in danger. It is the same for border patrol, customs, for the federal workers in the prisons, we all put our lives on the line every day. For us not to be compensated is an insult. Say a public corporation like Google has a fight between the CEO and the Board of Directors about a new security system. The argument devolved and they laid everyone off until they could come up with a solution. The shareholders would throw them out. This is the same situation.
Q. Are you mad at the Trump voter?
No, I am neutral politically as a federal employee. We do our job and don’t get involved in politics. Federal unions don’t have the same rights and opportunities to express ourselves. We all go into this business understanding this.
Q. What do you want the reader to know or do?
Call your congressman or senator and tell them to make a deal. That’s it. Make a deal, get past this and reopen the government. Don’t build the wall on the backs of the federal employees. We are all facing high anxiety. It's like waiting for the hurricane to hit. Everyone is reporting the damage but we haven’t seen it yet. We know on Friday when those checks don’t come in the hurricane will have hit and aren’t sure what will happen. I have no idea what people will do. People who just got the job may be in shock wondering what they got themselves into. Veterans kind of know how this works, but this one is a little different since it has gone on so long. At some point, they have to open the government, but you don’t know when it is going to happen.