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Local Air-traffic Controllers Call For Shutdown’s End

January 25, 2019

PITTSTON TWP. — Air-traffic controllers working unpaid distributed brochures Thursday to airline passengers at the local airport urging President Donald Trump and Congress to end the federal government shutdown.

They warned that the nation’s aviation system is eroding, though still safe.

“We don’t want to be used as pawns in this game,” said Lenny Ameika, 36, a Duryea resident and president of the local chapter of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a labor union. “Whatever they’re arguing about has nothing to do with us. We just want to get paid for the work we’re doing.”

Like most other federal employees, air-traffic controllers will endure their second payless payday today, Ameika said in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport terminal.

Ameika said controllers have begun to dip into savings, borrow money and rely on donated food and other goods to keep up with bills. Some tapped the numerous donated goods the airport collected.

Just back from an out-of-town trip, Patrick McMahon, 68, of Dallas, said Congress and the president share the blame for the shutdown “50-50.” He praised airport employees for staying on the job.

“They’re still cheerful,” McMahon said.

— BORYS KRAWCZENIUK

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