ORLANDO, Fla. — Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were back on the job Monday, thanks to the ending of the partial federal government shutdown.
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But workers who support air traffic control operations at Orlando International Airport say it’s far from back to normal.
Jim Kubalanza says being off work since before Christmas wasn’t a good thing.
“I’ve never been this excited to come back to work,” said Kubalanza, who works for the FAA and spoke on behalf of Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the union who represents him and other workers.
Because Kubalanza’s job and the jobs of dozens of other workers weren’t considered essential during the partial government shutdown, a core group of their coworkers were tasked with keeping everything up and running for weeks.
Kubalanza says he spent much of his first day back on the job just trying to log back into systems he’s been shut out of because he was gone for so long.
Once his work resumes, it could take a while to get caught up.
“From where we were before the shutdown, to get back to that point is going to take months,” said Doug Lowe, P.A.S.S.’s Florida 1 Chapter President.
It will take a while for Kubalanza to recover financially. He says his credit score took a hit, and creditors who worked with him during the shutdown are now waiting to get paid.
“The phone calls are starting to come in: ‘We know the shutdown’s over, you’re back at work, you’re going to get back pay. We would like our share,’” Kubalanza said.
There’s still plenty of uncertainty.
“I feel like we’re in the eye of a hurricane right now,” Lowe said. “There’s this calm and everybody’s like, ‘Hey, are you okay?’ But at the same time we know we’re about to get hit again on the 15th if Congress and the President don’t do something, and the way they’re talking to each other right now doesn’t make us feel good.”
“I don’t think we’re out of the woods just yet, so we’re trying not to count our chickens before they hatch,” Kubalanza said.
Kubalanza and Lowe say they were told they would begin getting paychecks with back-pay on Monday, but that was pushed back. They hope they’ll begin getting those checks later in the week.