Union claims shutdown to affect safety of Orlando flights

Government shutdown impacts starting to hit small businesses

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Some of the workers who inspect airliners for safety before they take off from Orlando International Airport say they're starting to get concerned about passenger safety.

Doug Lowe, the president of the Florida chapter of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, a union representing some workers for the FAA, said he and his co-workers have not inspected any airliners since the government shutdown started three weeks ago.

"Our aviation inspectors are not considered essential employees," he said. "They are not at work. They are furloughed."

He and some other union members spent Tuesday afternoon holding signs outside of Orlando International Airport.

Inside, they handed out flyers telling customers they're beginning to get concerned.

"At this point of the shutdown, I wouldn’t tell people they’re at risk," he said. "But I would say a week from now, I myself wouldn’t fly."

The impact of the government shutdown can be felt in dollars in Brevard County.

A normally bustling GG's Roots Restaurant on U.S. Highway 1 sits empty.

Erik Sandoval/WKMG photo

"Lunchtime, it was maybe 15 people in line waiting. From 11:30 a.m. nonstop to 1:30 p.m," said co-owner Gloria Irizary.

On Tuesday, they served a total of eight people for lunch.

She and co-owner Gladys Vega said their NASA and government contractor customers are not coming in.

They said even the people who do come in are struggling.

"Families in general -- they're coming in and having to share a plate. It breaks our heart because we would love to say, 'Pay me later,' but we have to pay bills, too," she said.

The government shutdown is now in its third week, and the effects are likely to be more noticeable on Friday -- payday for government workers.

Thousands of workers will not get a paycheck.

Erik Sandoval/WKMG photo

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