PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The closure of the federal government extending over three weeks, hundreds of thousands of federal employees must make difficult decisions.
The Allegheny County Airport Authority is now trying to address some of their financial concerns.
Despite not being paid, TSA agents at the Pittsburgh International Airport come to work every day.
As a thank you, today and Friday, airport staff will be offering lunches to 200 federal PIT employees, including: @TSA agents working without pay. Officers say the passengers have left notes and other kindness thanking them since the start of the government shutdown. pic.twitter.com/pgmkevCWuE
– PIT airport (@PITairport) January 11, 2019
"I like to be able to say that I take care of people every day and that I help them," said Jalynn Lopresti, TSA officer at Pittsburgh International. "You know, since September 11, I'm partly responsible for the fact that some of these things are not happening anymore."
She is now one of 800,000 federal employees who are not paid when the federal government closes.
The Allegheny County Airport Authority has therefore decided to provide assistance. They provide free lunches to federal employees who work at the airport on Fridays during the shutdown.
"We realized that this was not happening everywhere," said Christina Cassotis, CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
She says that there are many airports in the country where TSA agents and other federal employees have called for sick people. But that did not happen in Pittsburgh.
"We wanted to thank them and we thought that made sense. In fact, we could give them lunch. I mean, it's an expense they should not incur. So that's the genesis of the idea, "said Cassotis.
This federal case is the second longest in the history of the United States. This makes it difficult for TSA agents and other federal employees who do not know exactly how they will pay their bills. They say that something like a free meal makes a difference.
"It's always stressful," said Lopresti. "I'm sure I'm not the only one to say it every day and we wonder how we are going to pay our bills in February and you know, are we going to become homeless in February … but I always happen to work because I know that I have a job and that I am not the only one. "
More than 200 lunches were offered on Friday. Employees received a sandwich, a bag of potato chips, a cookie and a drink. Although it may not seem like much, Pittsburgh International travelers think it's a nice move.
"I think it's great, I think, and the woman [a TSA Agent] who has just passed, I thank her for working and serving us in these difficult times. I'm like first responders, "said Mary Lou McLaughlin, who was traveling to New England to see her grandchildren. "They are here to do their work and to protect us. So, I think that everything the authority can do for them is great. "
Federal employees are also very grateful.
"This is my first closing. Most of the people I've worked with have lived for about five or six years, but that certainly helps because, like, I mean, it's difficult [to pay] So that gasoline sometimes goes to work, and you know, go to the store to do grocery shopping, you have to keep things, but until the government gets back to normal, said Lopresti.