San Jose City Council has announced that it will consider a proposal from Mayor Sam Liccardo to create a short-term, no-interest loan program for vital federal employees currently working without pay at Mineta San Jose International Airport, California. A meeting will take place today (Jan 16) at 2:00pm to decide the matter.
“We are going to do everything in our power to keep political dysfunction in Washington from creating service disruptions or safety issues here in San Jose,” said Liccardo. “Mineta San Jose International Airport is vital to our local economy and we need our highly skilled and trained federal workers there to keep it running smoothly. That’s why we are exploring tools, like these local bridge loans, to help keep these essential workers on the job.”
Now in its fourth week, the third partial shutdown of the US government began on December 22, 2018, after the United States Congress and President Donald Trump were unable to agree on the appropriation of funds for the 2019 fiscal year, primarily a request for US$5.7bn in federal funds for a US-Mexico border wall. The partial shutdown has resulted in a lapse in funding for nine federal departments affecting about one-fourth of federal government activities and approximately 800,000 federal employees.
As a result, many vital employees – such as air traffic controllers, TSA security employees and customs officers – have had to make the choice of working without pay or finding other work during the shutdown, which has left several US airports struggling to maintain daily operations. In one example, Miami International was forced to close one of its terminals early each day during the furlough.
At Mineta San Jose International Airport, approximately 500 federal employees have been forced to work without pay. The impact has been particularly noticeable in the airport’s TSA operations, which employs 400 individuals, about half of whom are also San Jose residents. Since the shutdown, the daily absence rate has increased from 3% to 14%.
While some credit unions and banks are offering assistance for federal employees affected by the shutdown, many of these loan programs have low limits, varying interest rates and are only available to existing members. As a result, Mayor Liccardo has proposed exploring whether the city could implement a short-term loan program that would provide an amount equal to monthly take-home pay that would be repaid – without interest – upon the employees’ receipt of back-pay.
The council will explore funding the program through airport revenues and administering the program in partnership with one or more financial institutions.