SAN JOSE – As the Trump-inspired Federal shut-down entered its fourth week with no solution in sight, the San Jose City Council considered a proposal from Mayor Sam Liccardo to explore creating a short-term, no-interest loan program for vital Federal employees currently working without pay at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Mayor Liccardo called a special meeting last January 16 for the City Council to consider directing the Administration to begin work on such a program.
“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.”
As vital employees – such as air traffic controllers, TSA security employees and Customs officers – face the choice of working without pay or finding other ways to support their families during the shut-down, airports throughout the nation have been left to weigh their options for maintaining daily operations. In one highly-publicized 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 shut-down, many of these loan programs have low limits, varying interest rates and are only available to existing members. As a result, Liccardo proposed exploring whether the City could implement a short-term loan program for SJC’s essential Federal workers along the following parameters:
1) The program would provide an amount equal to monthly take-home pay.
2) Loans would be repaid – without interest – upon the employees’ receipt of back pay.
3) All safety related, mission-critical Federal employees at the airport would be eligible to participate, including FAA air traffic controllers, TSA passenger screeners, and Customs officers.
4) The City would explore funding the program through Airport revenues and administering the program in partnership with one or more financial institutions.