Congressman Gregory Meeks met with TSA workers Saturday at JFK Airport to listen to their hardships and concerns during the partial government shutdown.
Meeks participated in the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 2222 and 3369 meal program held at JFK Airport over the weekend to help some of the 1,600 TSA workers at JFK Airport. Union members provided both a luncheon as well as take home bags filled with household items, some of which were provided free of charge by a local Subway sandwich shop.
“I Want to hear from you, your thoughts and how you are surviving and to assure you that our side is supporting you,” SMeeks said as he was surrounded by concerned workers.
Similar to scenes reported from across the country, JFK’s TSA workers described some difficulties they’ve faced since the shutdown went into effect, such as paying their rent, mortgages, concerns with adverse credit reporting, communicating costs and having to work another job.
One worker said that he received a letter recently from a credit reporting agency stating that his risk rating was increased and his credit score dropped 38 percent as a result of the shutdown.
Workers asked what they could do to deal with their landlords and how they can maintain their credit cards. Meeks said that they should contact the credit card companies, landlords and banks to explain what is happening and ask that extend extensions for payments without penalty.
This past week, State Sen. Sanders Jr. offered his support, saying he would call the banks to see what they are doing to mitigate negative credit reporting.
One female officer said“ it is was mind boggling and very emotional not knowing when we they are getting paid.”
While Meeks carefully listened to the workers’ concerns, there were several side conversations among those attending, who were sharing their frustrations and similar stories about how the lack of salary is affecting their lives.
One worker said that even though his wife works, things are still tight and he is concerned about the future of this job.
Another worker, on the job for more than 10 years, said he had to take a part time construction job to help him make ends meet.
Another concern was the cost of commuting. Even though the AirTrain is offering free rides to government-affected workers, many drive or take the LIRR to the airport. The out of pocket expense over a month’s period of time is hurting, according to workers.
An AFGE representative thanked Meeks for showing up on a Saturday and on short notice to listen to the concerns over the shutdown and the negative financial impact it is having on the affected government workers.
Meeks ended the meeting by letting the workers know they have support.
“We stand with you and will work to end this shutdown,” Meeks said.