People across Valley open hearts and wallets to help furloughed federal employees

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Air traffic controllers just missed their first paycheck.

It's been more than two weeks since TSA workers have received their last paycheck.

At Fresno Yosemite International Airport, 31 air traffic controllers are nearing the end of their 26th day without pay.

"Morale is at a very very all-time low. it's an eerie feeling going in there, everyone has their own problems," says air traffic controller Jerry O'Gorman.

O'Gorman is a union representative for National Air Traffic Controllers Association. He and his co-workers are feeling the pinch.

They shouldn't have to rely on others.

But lately, it's the generosity of the community that has helped them keep going.

"Those little things are morale boosters for sure. Pilots groups out of Fresno Chandler provided us lunch and also Fresno flight training - the owner sent us pizzas two days in a row."

On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state is pitching in too, offering unemployment benefits to affected federal employees.

Even cities like Fresno and Clovis have offered to defer utility payments for as long as the shutdown lasts.

"It's a comfortable way to make sure their utility bills just don't keep stacking up to the point where now they are in danger of having their water shut off," said Mark Standriff of the City of Fresno.

But government employees say not all creditors are so flexible -- and unpaid bills are quickly stacking up.

"I don't know what much else to say other than end the shutdown. This is affecting hardworking professionals that have nothing to do with the argument going on," says O'Gorman.

In a working environment where stress levels are already high, air traffic controllers are nearing the end of their endurance.

The city of Fresno offers deferred payment plans to anyone who is experiencing hardship.

All you have to do is reach out and apply with the Department of Public Utilities.
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