Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I’m beginning to sense that not everyone is as enthusiastic about the Border Wall as is President Trump.
His enthusiasm has led to a partial government shutdown.
This, in turn, has led to genuine hardship for many government employees, some quitting because they’re not being paid. And now, lawsuits.
On Friday the National Air Traffic Controllers Association sued the president, following the example of the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees.
The Air Traffic Controllers are suing the president in his official capacity, as well as other government officials in theirs.
Read through the lawsuit and there are several elements that might boggle sanguine minds.
The suit declares that the Trump Administration didn’t offer due process before forcing Air Traffic Controllers to work without pay.
The most riveting section, though, is entitled FACTS.
The one that stopped me was this:
In addition to working their regular hours without pay, since December 22, 2018, and continuing, plaintiffs and those similarly situated to them have worked hours in excess of the overtime threshold without any payment for the overtime hours.
It’s one thing being told to work without pay. It’s surely even more galling to be told you have to work overtime, too.
These workers have nothing to do with the Wall Dispute. They’re just trying to do their important jobs, often in difficult circumstances.
At what point do at least some of these employees declare they’ve had enough? Especially when 20 percent of America’s Air Traffic Controllers are already eligible for retirement.
The union says some of its members are enduring financial struggles.
The lawsuit tells the story of Kevin Bianchi. His wages are garnished by court order for mandatory alimony payments. The suit explains:
If Plaintiff Bianchi misses those payments, he expects his ex-spouse may take him to court, endangering the security clearance he needs in his position as Air Traffic Controller.
It tells the story of Jonathan Barnett, who fears he’ll be evicted for not paying rent.
It tells the story of Amanda Fuchs, a single mom of two kids, who pays for part of her brother’s medical care, needs physical therapy for a pelvic condition and now fears she won’t be able to afford traveling to her grandmother’s funeral.
Of course the union’s lawyers have featured the most extreme cases. The stories are still moving because they feature the entirely innocent.
Last week, I wrote about the union representing the pilots at Delta, United and many more airlines sending a letter to President Trump asking him to end the shutdown now.
The union spoke of the ever-increasing risks to safety and security caused by the president’s actions.
Even United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz offered his own — highly political — plea for “our elected leaders” to “make something happen.” (An accurate translation of this politico-speak might be full of curse words.)
Indeed, there’s something a touch Kafkaesque, some might feel, about shutting down the government for the (alleged) sake of national security and safety and then appearing to risk the security and safety of those who trust in the air travel system.
As the shutdown breaks (unwanted) records, so many become affected.
Not merely those who work for the government, but outside businesses that work with the government.
Lawsuits might not, in themselves, make a difference. The constant stream of human stories, though, might exert at least some influence on public opinion.
And if there’s one thing politicians occasionally pay attention to, it’s that.