02.05.19

SCHUMER INVITES NEW YORK AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER, RONAN BYRNE, TO STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS; AFTER 35 DAYS WITHOUT PAY DURING THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN THAT HELD HOSTAGE 800,000 INNOCENT FEDERAL WORKERS & JEOPARDIZED PUBLIC SAFETY FOR MILLIONS OF AMERICANS, BYRNE, FATHER OF 4 CHILDREN UNDER 5 YEARS OLD, EXEMPLIFIES THE VITAL NECESSITY OF KEEPING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FULLY-FUNDED & OPEN

As Schumer’s Guest, Byrne Will Highlight Toll The Partial Federal Government Shutdown Had On Hardworking Federal Employees & Their Families, the American Economy—& The Erosion of Air Travel Efficiency And Safety For Millions Of Americans

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that he has invited as his guest, Ronan Byrne, an air traffic controller from Long Island, and father of four, to attend the president’s State of the Union address tonight. Byrne is an air traffic controller at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), located in Westbury, New York.

As one of the thousands of air traffic controllers throughout the country,  Byrne was deemed an essential federal employee and worked without pay for 35 days in late December through January due to the partial federal government shutdown. As a result of the counterproductive shutdown, the air traffic controllers, tasked with protecting the safety of millions of airborne passengers each day, were settled with crippling stress and massive financial hardship, many struggling mightily to pay for commuting and living costs. These workforce pressure mounted eventually causing flights to be canceled, rerouted, delayed or rescheduled. This inordinate pressure jeopardized public safety and put federal workers and their families in significant financial and mental hardships. During the height of the crisis, the president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said federal government shutdown was leading to overworked controllers who were worried about making ends meet — and making routine mistakes on the job. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said, “The system is not as safe as it was before this shutdown started.”

Schumer pointed to Ronan Byrne, father of four toddlers, who he said, “Is a prime example of a dedicated and professional federal worker – doing a vital job for the American public – who was put through the wringer for no good reason. This shutdown should never have happened in the first place, and it sure should absolutely not happen again. We need to craft a common-sense solution to border security and  keep the federal government fully-funded and open.”

Schumer added that, “For 35 long days hundreds of thousands of hardworking federal employees worked without pay, and in many cases didn’t work at all, because of a totally preventable partial government shutdown. I am pleased to announce that one of these federal employees, Ronan Byrne, a Long Island air traffic controller at TRACON and father of 4 sons under 5 years old, will be my guest at the State of the Union address tonight, to shed further light on how these employees and their families were the true victims of the counterproductive shutdown,” said Senator Schumer. “Even in the face of uncertainty over when they’d receive their next paychecks or how they’d pay their bills and feed their families, federal employees like Ronan Byrne dutifully showed up for work, each and every day. Air traffic controllers throughout our country deserve a stable income to perform their essential jobs – with the highest level of concentration and dedication – to ensure public safety for the millions Americans who fly each day. I couldn’t be more proud to bring Ronan Byrne with me to the State of the Union, and I’ll keep fighting with everything I’ve got to ensure that he and the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families, like the Byrnes, all across the United States are never forced to bear the brunt of such a meaningless government shutdown again.”

“I want to thank Senator Schumer for the opportunity to attend the State of the Union. I’m proud to be here urging Congress and the administration to keep the government fully funded and open on behalf of the employees at NY TRACON who have already endured the personal hardships of the previous shutdown,” said Ronan Byrne, Air Traffic Control Specialist at NY TRACON.  

Ronan Byrne resides in Bethpage, NY with his wife, Stefanie, who is a fulltime caregiver to their four young sons, Finn (5), Ethan (3), William and Henry(16-month old twins). For the entirety of the 35-day partial government shutdown, Ronan Byrne and hundreds of thousands of other federal employees worked without pay because of the entirely avoidable partial government shutdown. Throughout the duration of the shutdown, Byrne, whose salary is the main source of income for the family, was saddled with the uncertainty of not knowing when he would receive his next paycheck and still dutifully showed up for work each and every day. 

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