Local federal employees take hardships, sick days because they can't afford to work without pay

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Federal workers affected by the shutdown are straining after a month without pay.

IRS employees are being granted hardships to stay off the job and more TSA workers are calling in sick.

They were ordered back to work this week, declared essential employees, but many can't make it. They can't afford to buy gas or pay child care.

Jason Sisk represents the workers who are part of the National Treasury Employees Union.

"There's hundreds that have accepted hardships, not to return, to remain on the non-essential list," Sisk said.

The IRS isn't commenting on how many workers are out, but IRS employees across the country are seeking hardship status. Sisk is assisting his members by handing out copies of a Treasury Department letter the workers can give to their landlords and bill collectors.

RELATED: Furloughed workers concerned about missing second paycheck with no end in sight for shutdown

"A lot of employees are getting eviction notices and stuff. We are helping to get them letters and stuff that explains you know, where the landlord or whatever can check their employment status," he said.

At airports, close to 10-percent of TSA workers nationwide are calling in sick or claiming a hardship. Passengers arriving in Fresno said they haven't experienced any problems.

One TSA worker told Actions News he wasn't free to comment.

"We can't strike by law, we're Federal so the deck is stacked against us," Sisk said.

It's been that way since 1981 when air traffic controllers members of the PATCO union across the nation went on strike. President Reagan fired nearly 12,000, and made it a crime for federal workers to strike.

RELATED: Local federal workers hope a deal is struck in Washington to end shutdown as finances strain

Today, air traffic controllers are represented by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. They are still on the job without pay. Local union representative Jerry O'Gorman says the danger is they are working without their support staff, who have all been furloughed.

"So those people aren't there to help us do our job better to increase safety. We are the safest most efficient airspace in all of the world but without those layers I don't know how long we can keep our standard, which is perfection," O'Gorman said.

And along with the workers, members of the public said they're hoping the shutdown ends.

"I think that's a bad deal, as big as this country is, even if they have a problem they should be able to pay these people," said

"We just appreciate their hard work and the sacrifices they make and hope that everything ends soon so they can receive the pay they deserve for doing their job," said

RELATED: Merced Co. Food Bank launch fundraiser to help furloughed workers impacted by shutdown
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.