WASHINGTON - The National Air Traffic Controllers Association filed a lawsuit Friday against President Donald Trump and other top federal officials, saying they are depriving controllers of their "hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process."
Controllers across the country started seeing pay stubs Thursday showing that they are receiving no pay for their work guiding planes to airports nationwide.
The legal challenge, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks a temporary restraining order against the federal government for allegedly violating controllers' constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment.
The air traffic controllers are also organizing a leafleting effort appealing directly to passengers at airports across the country, including in Dallas Atlanta, Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well as at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a union official said. The intent of the leafleting is to underscore the importance of their work and end the shutdown more quickly, the official said, not to protest.
The controllers are among hundreds of thousands of federal workers forced to work for free during the partial government shutdown. More than 24,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees are working without pay because their positions are considered vital for "life and safety." Separately, more than 17,000 other FAA workers have been furloughed.
"Each day, the FAA's Air Traffic Controllers," the lawsuit says, "are responsible for ensuring the safe routing of tens of thousands of flights, often working lengthy, grueling overtime shifts to do so. In fact, plaintiffs' job is so demanding and requires such rare stills that the FAA struggles to maintain a full complement of certified Air Traffic Controllers."
A similar suit was filed on behalf of federal workers at the departments of Justice, Agriculture and Homeland Security.
This article was written by Michael Laris and Ashley Halsey, reporters for The Washington Post.