Detroit Wing Company hopes to lift spirits of TSA with food donation

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Detroit Wing Company is hoping to give a lift to some TSA agents at Detroit Metro Airport who've been without a paycheck for a month with a meal on the house.

"The airport is in our backyard and there are a couple hundred people working here without pay, so it was a pretty easy decision to bring some food over and help out," said Gus Malliaras.

But once these angels take their wings with them and leave, smiles will fade and 800,000 workers who call Uncle Sam boss will be left wondering how much longer they can manage.  

"I know for me I am going to be okay for a little bit longer but some of my coworkers are struggling right now," said TSA employee Jasmine Lauri.

The federal workers have some options if they need money right away, including filing for unemployment. 

"They will receive those benefits during the time they are in active status - in other words when they are not receiving pay," said Sara Moore, labor attorney at Nemeth Law. "And then when they return to work after the shut down and they receive back pain and they're going to have to reimburse the unemployment insurance agency for the benefits they receive join that time."

Basically you'd be borrowing money. There's also the option of tapping into retirement benefits. Federal employees have what's called a Thrift Savings Plan. It's like a 401K. If you're under 59 and a half, you can go for some money.

"However that Loan will have a $50,000 cap and it will have to be repaid in the future through salary deductions within five years," Moore said. “The Thrift Savings Plan also has an option of early withdrawals, however that does not come without its own negative consequences for employees, because the early withdrawal option comes with a 10 percent penalty fee."

The problem is, whatever taken out can't be put back on the account. And what about protests? Many federal employees have been afraid to take part in protest in fear of retaliation. 

"There are First Amendment rights and they would not be able to retaliate against employees for exercising their First Amendment rights," Moore said.

The only encouraging news as the shutdown pushes the one-month mark is this: their health benefits will continue. But eventually, remember, you'll have to pay the premium you're not paying now. So when the boneless BBQ, and buffalo wings run out, they're leaning on hope that this shutdown will end soon. 

"Hopefully it turns into something bigger and some other restaurants will follow in our footsteps and keep these guys fed at least," Malliaras said.