Chicago area air traffic controllers continues to work without paycheck

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CHICAGO — A federal judge ruled against a lawsuit filed in part by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association Tuesday and refused to force the government to pay federal employees during the partial government shutdown.

Despite the ruling, planes still fly and workers in the Chicago area continue to work unsure of when they’ll get paid. The shutdown is having an impact on people’s lives.

The employees at Aurora’s Air Route Traffic Control Center are the eyes over the Midwest and make sure everything runs safely at local airports. However, the shutdown only adds to an already strained system.

Toby Hauck, the president of the Chicago ARTCC, said every day the shutdown goes on, the stress is added to the workforce.

“We’re already on a six-day work week at the Chicago Center, nationally we’re on a 30-year low for air traffic controllers, here at Chicago Center we’re staffed at 80 to 82 percent so that’s causing our six-day work week,” he said.

SkyCam 9 flew over Midway International Airport and everything continued to run there, but there are some “non-essential” employees that have been furloughed, which includes aircraft inspectors.

“So it’s kind of like sending a surgeon in for surgery and not having the entire team, those folks that are non essential or not accepted, they’re a big part of our team, they’re a big part of our safety net behind the scenes,” Hauck said.

Even though air traffic controllers continue to work, when they’ll see their next paycheck is still up in the air.

Some air traffic controllers said they’ve asked for extensions on their credit card payments. Others are trying to find a way to make their mortgage payment.


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