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Oakland TSA workers reflect on the government shutdown

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Oakland TSA workers reflect on the government shutdown

PHOTO BY RALF ROLETSCHEK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY RALF ROLETSCHEK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY RALF ROLETSCHEK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Erika Martinez, STAFF WRITER

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The financial state of furloughed federal workers is still undetermined as we approach the last two weeks of the temporary federal government reopening.
The 35-day government shutdown, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25 began commenced after a request for $5.7 billion of federal funding for a border wall which Democrats have refused to provide.
On Jan. 16, President Trump signed a bill guaranteeing back pay to all federal employees who had been working without pay and at the time had already missed two paychecks.
It is estimated that roughly 800,000 federal workers have been financially affected by the partial shutdown.
Agents from the Transportation Security Administration at the Oakland International Airport have partially started to receive their back pay.
“By Jan. 31st, they ended up giving us all our back pay,” stated TSA agent Karina Ruiz.
TSA agent and Cal State East Bay Alumni, Mason Brandon Zenda experienced otherwise.
“We received a portion of it, not all of it, about less than half of the back pay, and we’re still waiting on the other half, probably in another week or two,” he told The Pioneer.
Zenda, who has been with TSA since 2014, recently started living on his own about five months ago and explains that having the government shut down for more than a month was not an easy transition for him.
“I’m reaching out to family, especially my mom, my mom has helped me out a lot. I’ll be okay for the next month or two,” he said.
Ruiz admits that not getting paid for a whole month was stressful for her up to the point where the possibility of looking for a part-time job until the government reopened had become an option.
“I did ask my sister to lend me one thousand dollars because my priority was to pay my rent and my car note,” she said.
Aside from the stress, Ruiz states that the support was always there.
“A lot of passengers donated gift cards, the Alameda Sheriff Department brought us pasta, pizza and chicken and Southwest Airlines organized a canned food drive,” she said.
Ruiz and Zenda both emphasize that paying federal employees should be a priority, regardless of the reasons for a government shutdown.
“Now Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has ten days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland and secure our very dangerous southern border,” Donald Trump said at the State of the Union Address on Wednesday evening.
It is still uncertain if the government will remain open after Feb. 15.

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Oakland TSA workers reflect on the government shutdown