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LAX helps workers during government shutdown: free buses, help with utility bills and a food pantry

LAX helps workers during government shutdown: free buses, help with utility bills and a food pantry
Transportation Security Administration employees try to get gift cards for groceries after an American Federation of Government Employees conference at LAX on Jan. 16. Other assistance is also being offered to furloughed workers during the government shutdown. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

More than 3,000 federal workers at Los Angeles International Airport and Van Nuys Airport are being offered new aid measures in the wake of the federal government shutdown.

Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that owns and operates the airports, on Thursday began offering federal employees free rides on the FlyAway bus service that takes riders to the airport from Union Station, Hollywood, Van Nuys, Long Beach and Westwood.

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Parking fees at Van Nuys will be waived, and parking fees at LAX will be deferred, the agency announced.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday said he has directed the L.A. Department of Water and Power as well as the city’s Bureau of Sanitation to offer assistance and payment plans for water, power, sewer and trash services. That includes plans that spread payments out over an additional three to four months.

The decision came before President Trump on Friday announced a deal to temporarily end the shutdown. The deal includes a three-week extension of government funding through Feb. 15 and an agreement to continue negotiations on border security, including the debate over building a wall at the southern U.S. border.

“It is good news that people are getting back to work, but America needs more than a Band-Aid — we need a fully functioning federal government,” Garcetti said in a statement after news of the deal. “If the president brings us back to this point again, we have plans in place to support our hardworking TSA employees so that they can stay on the job without worrying about how to put food on the table.”

The programs will continue until federal employees receive their paychecks, said Los Angeles World Airports spokeswoman Becca Doten.

About 200 employees and their families have used a food pantry the airport set up last week at LAX that offers nonperishable food items, diapers, paper goods and toiletries, Doten said.

Roughly 2,500 Transportation Security Administration employees, 800 Customs and Border Protection employees, 100 Federal Aviation Administration employees and 50 other federal employees work at the two airports, Doten said.

The airport agency also launched a website with information on resources available for federal employees, including information on low-cost loans and applying for unemployment insurance.

“Our TSA, CBP and FAA colleagues operate on the front lines of keeping our airports safe, secure and efficient, and we want them all to know how much we appreciate them and the sacrifices being made by them and their families right now,” said Los Angeles World Airports Chief Executive Deborah Flint.

The shutdown began Dec. 22. More than 800,000 federal workers were due to miss their second paycheck before Trump announced the temporary deal to end it.

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