Airlines Serve Up Hawaiian Barbecue To San Diego Airport's Federal Workers
Ron Gerber is one of the 51,000 Transportation Security Administration employees who has been working without pay since the partial government shutdown began in mid-December. So far, he missed two paychecks and said he is soon at risk of losing his benefits too.
"Well I've had to dip into the savings. The bills keep on coming and if it continues it's going to get worse. We have health insurance, eye care and dental insurance and life insurance — well those are going to lapse very soon if we don't get paid," he said.
While it's been a tough month for Gerber and many of his coworkers, they received some relief on Thursday. The San Diego International Airport's airlines teamed up with the San Diego Food Bank and the USO to offer a free Hawaiian barbecue lunch to 500 federal workers at the airport.
"Today we came together to say thank you to the employees, the federal employees who are coming to work, who are keeping us open for business without pay," said Lidia Martinez of Southwest Airlines.
The average TSA worker makes about $35,000 a year, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the agency for which they work. Gerber said many TSA workers are having trouble making ends meet, but events like the Hawaiian barbecue help increase morale.
"Looking around here at these people here, they all had smiles on their faces and they were giving us food and it's amazing the feeling it gives you as somebody who is not getting paid that these people are looking out for us," Gerber said.
The San Diego Food Bank also handed out groceries and diapers to hundreds of families.