Flights into busy New York airport halted due to staffing shortages amid government shutdown

Elham Khatami

Elham Khatami Associate Editor, ThinkProgress

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that flights into New York’s La Guardia Airport, one of the busiest airports in the country, have been halted due to staffing shortages in the midst of the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The announcement comes just one day after aviation labor union leaders met to discuss the safety and security issues brought on by the government shutdown, including attrition and the “ramifications of being unable to address equipment and staffing shortages.”

According to the FAA, staffing issues at regional air traffic control centers, including the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center in Leesburg, VA and the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center in Hilliard, FL have affected traffic arriving at La Guardia, causing delays.

The FAA tweeted Friday morning that a “slight increase in sick leave” at two facilities has resulted in a staffing shortage.

Air traffic has also been delayed at Philadelphia and Newark airports. The delays and halted flights will likely affect airports across the country. Early reports suggested that air space around Washington, D.C. had been shut down, but an employee at Dulles Airport told ThinkProgress at the time of publication that no cancellations have been reported.

Air traffic controllers are among the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown. On Wednesday, unions representing air traffic controllers, flight attendants, and pilots urged Congress and the White House to end the government shutdown, warning that the reduction in resources could affect their ability to prevent accidents.

“In our risk averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. It is unprecedented,” the statement read.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work