Dozens of government workers and union supporters gathered Thursday morning at Honolulu airport, wielding signs, for a silent march protesting the partial government shutdown.
Their signs said: “Pay our federal workers now!” and “End the shutdown” and “Stop the madness.”
“They are held hostage,” said Lisa Marie Akau, national organizer for the American Federation of Government Employees. “They are hostages to this fight. Our federal employees are doing their jobs here, but they’re not getting paid. We need Congress to take this, pass it, and get these people paid because it’s only going to get worse.”
The union represents about 900 Transportation Security Administration officers statewide who are being required to work without pay, according to Akau, and morale is at an all-time low.
The shutdown entered its 27th day on Thursday, with no signs of progress, but news that President Donald Trump was denying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi aircraft for a planned trip abroad.
Protesters gathered before the Hawaiian Airlines interisland terminal (Terminal 1) at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, then walked in a procession past security checkpoints and through Terminal 2, ending at United Airlines’ baggage claim.
The union organized the first visible protest on Oahu to demonstrate a show of support for TSA workers, said Akau, who is also organizing a food dropoff of hots dogs and chips at the airport on Friday. Representatives of UNITE HERE Local 5, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Seafarers International Union were also on hand to show their support.
Akau said Federal Aviation Administration workers and air marshals are also working without pay.
At the same time, the TSA reported that maximum wait times at the Honolulu airport on Wednesday were at 15 minutes for standard passengers, well within the national average of 30 minutes.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation also tweeted Wednesday that it appreciated TSA agents who were working without pay.
“Our essential federal employees continue working to protect the traveling public despite not knowing when their next paycheck will arrive,” said HDOT on its Twitter and Facebook accounts. “Please show them aloha and pack extra patience during these uncertain times.”