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Shutdown forces air traffic controllers to work without pay

7:13 PM, Oct 14, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- More than 600 Atlanta based air traffic controllers guide aircraft in and out of Hartsfield Jackson International airport and regionally, around the southeast. 

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Since the government shutdown, a union vice president says controllers have been under orders to work without pay.

"It's a standoff. And both sides seem to be backing up and punting, and we seem to be the football right now," said Victor Santore of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "And I don't like being the football."

Santore says air controllers will get half a paycheck Tuesday. If the government shutdown continues two more weeks, they will get no paycheck -- even though they've reported to work. He contends FAA furloughs impact air safety. 

"Every day this goes on, it just peels away at the margin of safety," Santore said.

One Delta pilot says there's no noticeable difference.

"I'm sure they have personal issues with what's going on with their jobs. But they don't seem to bring that to the control cab, to the control station," said Rob Welch, a 33-year Delta pilot headed from Atlanta to Dusseldorf Germany Monday. "I've noticed no difference in their professionalism."

"The job of an air traffic controller is stressful to begin with," Santore added. "There's no reason to add this extra stress, and just treat us like pawns in a game of chess."

Santore says the controllers have been told they will receive back pay whenever the government shutdown ends.

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