CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Aside from the pilot, air traffic controllers are some of the most important people keeping you safe when you fly.
On Friday, controllers in Charlotte and at airports across the U.S. won't get a paycheck because of the federal government shutdown.
Channel 9's Liz Foster spoke to Anthony Schifano, the president of Charlotte's Air Traffic Control Union, and learned he traveled to Washington, D.C., to push lawmakers for answers.
Despite the government shutdown, air traffic controllers are still working in Charlotte Douglas International Airport's traffic control tower around the clock. They were supposed to be moving to a new tower, which is almost finished being built, but construction is now on hold because of the shutdown.
“There’s so many things that can go wrong and I think everybody should be getting paid for what they’re doing,” said traveler Diego Temoche..
The job of an air traffic controller is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful worldwide and workers now face additional stress.
"Now, you have to worry about not getting a paycheck and not being able to pay your mortgage, not being able to pay your bills,” said Schifano.
Schifano said the overall sentiment inside the towers right now is safety first and just do the job.
Support staff members who help air traffic controllers with quality assurance are considered non-essential employees, so they have been furloughed.
“It’s very important for air traffic controllers on the front lines to have the resources they need to do their job,” said Schifano.
Schifano told Channel 9 that there is no impact to travelers in Charlotte because air traffic controllers are still working.
Foster tried calling the Federal Aviation Administration to find out whether it has seen problems at any of its 517 towers nationwide, but the FAA Office of Communications was closed due to the "lapse in government funding."
Typically, government employees who have to work during a shutdown will get back pay, once the government reopens.
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