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Amid Shutdown, TSA Officers Face Security Clearance Threat Over Unpaid Bills

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Bradley International Airport

The partial government shutdown is taking its toll on furloughed employees and those who are forced to work without pay at Bradley International Airport. 

Christopher Scofield is an Airway Transportation Systems Specialist at Bradley who has been working without pay during the shutdown.

"We all have mortgages, we have rent, we have bills that have to be paid, my washer actually broke last week and I don't know when I will be able to replace it," he told reporters Monday, 24 days into the partial government shutdown. "And it can only get worse from here as far as affording bills, making sure that everything has to get paid."

Meanwhile, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is asking that the state Department of Labor grant unemployment benefits to federal workers at Bradley who have had to work without pay. Currently only furloughed employees receive unemployment assistance.

"The people who are coming to work without pay deserve this kind of benefit as much as the folks who are furloughed and staying home," said Blumenthal.

Blumenthal believes the state legislature should step in if the Department of Labor won’t grant unemployment benefits to employees affected by the shutdown. He said having TSA and other federal employees working at Bradley without pay during the shutdown is "a mockery of our democratic system."

Others at the press conference pointed out the Catch 22 that some federal workers may soon find themselves in.

“These employees have security clearance and what comes along with that is a financial suitability requirement,” said Valyria Lewis said. As an official of the American Federation of Government Employees, she represents many of those currently working without pay.

Lewis said workers must pay their bills on time or face losing their security clearance and their currently non-paying jobs. “Coming to work without pay won’t even be an option,” she said.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series “Where Art Thou?” Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of “Morning Edition”, and later of “All Things Considered.”
Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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