Federal Workers Receive First Paycheck Since Shutdown for $0

CHARLOTTE, NC- Thousands of Charlotte area federal workers received paychecks with only zeroes on them. Air traffic controllers say morale is low and they’re asking Congress and the president to take swift action to end the shutdown.

“Every day you have to be 100% 100% of the time,” said Anthony Schifano, a Charlotte Air Traffic Controller and the President of the local Air Traffic Controller Association, “every decision you make has impact.”

Air Traffic Controllers manage the skies as more than 1,000 planes come in and go out of Charlotte airport each day.

“Every single clearance you give has human life at stake. That’s why the job is one of the most stressful jobs we have in America,” said Schifano.

Many controllers like Schifano are doing their job without pay.

“I’m married. I have two kids. You take a check away from me for any amount of time, you have to make adjustments immediately,” explained Schifano.

Some controllers have been furloughed. Some tell me they’re looking for side jobs in food service or ridesharing to cover the lost costs.

Meanwhile, nearly 5,000 other federal employees nationwide have filed for unemployment benefits. Schifano says morale is low.

“How long can you sustain not getting a paycheck and people are getting concerned,” said Schifano.

“Everybody who works ought to get paid,” said Democratic Charlotte Representative Alma Adams.

She says she’ll spend the weekend meeting with federal workers and offering encouragement to keep spirits up.

“Not only are we concerned, but we’re doing everything we can do to get the ball rolling so they can get paid,” said Adams.

Non-government workers are also feeling the pinch. General contractors working on Charlotte’s new air traffic control tower are also not getting paid. The federal employees overseeing the project have been furloughed.

“A paycheck for zero dollars and zero cents, it’s a game changer,” said Schifano.

Politics aside, Schifano wants a resolution.

“We want the government shutdown to end, we want them to quit using government employees as pawns in the political system so we can continue to do what we do,” said Schifano.