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Sherri O'Neil in air traffic controller in Auburn. She's been working for 33 days without a paycheck. "You definitely feel a weight of stress in the building, but I feel like everybody's been there for each other," O'Neil says, "everybody just talks a little bit nicer, extra smile or 'hello, or how are you doing?' So we've been there for each other trying to lift each other up through this." 
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Sherri O'Neil in air traffic controller in Auburn. She's been working for 33 days without a paycheck. "You definitely feel a weight of stress in the building, but I feel like everybody's been there for each other," O'Neil says, "everybody just talks a little bit nicer, extra smile or 'hello, or how are you doing?' So we've been there for each other trying to lift each other up through this."
Credit: KUOW PHOTO/ CASEY MARTIN

TSA, FAA workers at Sea-Tac Airport demand to be paid

People in charge of airplane safety at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport haven't been paid for a month. If the government shutdown continues through Friday, they'll miss their second paycheck.

On Tuesday, security agents and air traffic controllers rallied outside the airport.

Sherri O'Neil has been a controller for 11 years in Auburn. She's been through government shutdowns before, but said she's never not been paid for her work.

"I have a mortgage, single-income family. So it's definitely a scary thought not knowing what bills are going to have to be put on hold," O'Neil said. "My daughter sees the stress on my face and she's worried for me."

O'Neil and about three dozen other federal workers stood in the rain Tuesday, supported by local union members of the American Federation of Government Employees.

The union represents about 800 TSA officers, 200 FAA air traffic controllers, prison guards at the Northwest Detention Center and thousands of others working without pay.

O'Neil said where the government has failed them the community has stepped in. Recently the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association bought them pizza and airlines have donated food.

This collection barrel is emptied at least once a day. The airport has never set one up before.
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This collection barrel is emptied at least once a day. The airport has never set one up before.
Credit: KUOW PHOTO/ CASEY MARTIN

The Port of Seattle set up a food collection barrel after passengers in security lines tried to give gifts and even cash to TSA agents.

On Tuesday the barrel was overflowing with boxes of noodles, cans of soup and bags of diapers.

The Port said the food is donated to TSA and FAA workers daily and the barrel will stay out for as long as the shutdown continues.

Thomas Carpenter is one of the workers in need of those diapers. He has two young children, ages 1 and 4.

"It's really affecting our family," Carpenter said. "Our savings account balance is going down, we're making some cuts, and we're not able to save for college for our kids as we were before."

The employees outside Tuesday say they haven't missed a day of work since the shutdown began over a month ago.

Thomas Carpenter and his daughter, Emma. He also has a one year old. Carpenter has kept planes safe as an air traffic controller for six years.
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Thomas Carpenter and his daughter, Emma. He also has a one year old. Carpenter has kept planes safe as an air traffic controller for six years.
Credit: KUOW PHOTO/ CASEY MARTIN

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