Shutdown causing air travel safety concerns, union leaders say

CHICAGO — Union leaders said the air safety environment is deteriorating by the day due to the government shutdown.

A warning was issued Wednesday from the unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants nationwide. The joint statement said:

“In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented.”

“If this continues, we're going to see a catastrophic failure in the system,” Dan Carrico, president of NATCA at O'Hare International Airport, said. "I can't tell you when, or how, but I can tell you that the stress and the fatigue that my air controllers at O'Hare are experiencing, and throughout the country, it's going to lead to us to miss something."

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin met with air traffic controllers in Aurora and said working without pay is not only unfair but also dangerous.

“The stress this is putting on these men and women is unacceptable. We want to make sure that they can focus on their jobs. Instead of focusing on whose going to pay for the medical bills for for their children,” he said.

The shutdown has dragged on for more than a month, raising serious concerns about staffing levels.

At O’Hare and Midway International Airport, TSA agents received some help from the Salvation Army.

They served warm meals for those bearing the financial pain of the dysfunction in Washington.

"Typically when we respond to a disaster it’s usually a flood, or a home thats been destroyed, or flood, or tornado or a hurricane. What's been taken away is their income," Major David Dalberg, Salvation Army, said.

The union has repeated the call for Congress and the White House to take the necessary steps to end the shutdown immediately.

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