Southwest Airlines going extra mile for furloughed federal workers at Oakland Airport

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OAKLAND (KRON) — “If it wasn’t for Southwest, I don’t know where I’d be right now. 22 years of service.”

On a day Southwest Airlines honors it’s late co-founder Herb Kelleher, who died earlier this month, the airline is going the extra mile.

“Herb always believed in servant leadership,” said Steve Bernhardt with Southwest Airlines.

The airline is extending an olive branch to federal airport employees exempt from being furloughed and forced to work without pay.

“It is a difficult time,” said TSA worker David Von Damm. “But I tell you what, it’s times like this that bring people together.”

Last week, the Alameda County Community Food Bank stepped up and donated more than 300 bags of food for TSA officers, agents and inspectors who for more than a month now have worked without pay.

On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines offering those same employees free barbeque throughout the day.

“I think it’s the little things,” said Bernhardt. “I think any sign of appreciation to let them know that we care about them goes a long ways.”

The TSA says it has seen an uptick in sick calls since the partial government shutdown went into effect 32 days ago, adding though that security at the airport has not been compromised as a result.

“Everyone here signed up for the mission of TSA, to keep our traveling public safe and secure,” said Von Damm. “And, I could not be more proud, because that’s exactly what the men and women of TSA and my officers here at Oakland airport are doing everyday.”

And, for those who are interested in signing up for unemployment benefits, the airport has converted a conference room into a computer lab to help make that happen.

“Of course, people can use their own computers, they can use their phones, they can do this at home,” said Keonnis Taylor, a representative with the Oakland Airport. “But we just wanted to have space available for people who wanted to utilize the resource here.”

Depending on how long the shutdown lasts — this lab may become a vital resource for people struggling to make ends meet.

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