AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Thousands of men and women who help protect the skies continue to work without pay during the longest partial government shutdown in U.S history.
The American Federation of Government Employees local chapter President Henry Nnorom said the hardship his co-workers are facing is affecting morale.
"I am not happy, the members I represent are not happy," said Nnorom. "We are highly disappointed that we are treated like second class citizens."
The shutdown comes after President Trump demanded $5.7 billion for his long-promised border wall. A wall Democrats say they will not get behind.
The shutdown leaves Congress at an impasse and more than 800,000 federal workers are caught in the crosshairs.
TSO Officer Lenny Cason has worked for in aviation security for eight years and has undergone a government shutdown before.
"It's a shame that we are a pawn in this game of politics right now," Cason said. "A federal employee should not be told you are going to come to work and we don't know if you're going to get paid or not."
Seeking to ease the pain, the Transportation Administration is compensating uniformed screening officers who worked during the busy holiday travel season with $500 bonuses and a day's pay.
Nnorom said it's a little comfort for those who are struggling just to make ends meet.
"I'm having to scrape by just to put gas in my car for work. It's not just checks it's lives it's the difference between a child having two slices of bread in the morning before school and having none," said Nnorom.
Although there is a promise of back pay hundreds of workers are simply calling in sick to work causing staff shortages at at least four major airports.
"If there's not enough people to open x-ray lanes and provide screening than it's going to slow down aviation," said Cason. "It's going to affect the airport and it's going to affect aviation economy."
It's unclear how long the partial government shutdown will last.
Nnorom encourages people to call their local legislators and demand an end to the shutdown.
"Let's bring this shutdown thing to an end," said Nnorom. "We pride ourselves on closing negotiations that is the core of American value we are a society that prides ourselves in commerce. Let's sit in a room and don't come out till we resolve it."