- Shaun Best/Reuters
- Canadian air traffic controllers have bought pizzas for their US colleagues who aren’t getting paid during the government shutdown.
- The president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association estimated to the Associated Press that more than 300 pizzas had been delivered in places like New York, Seattle, and Utah by Sunday afternoon.
- US air traffic controllers have been sharing photos of their $0 pay stubs during the shutdown.
- One US air traffic controller said the solidarity from Canada allowed his team to “continue and push through” with their work.
Canadian air traffic controllers have bought hundreds of pizzas for their US colleagues who aren’t getting paid during the partial government shutdown.
Peter Duffey, the president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, said that Canadian air traffic controllers in the Edmonton area control center sent pizzas to the controllers in Anchorage, Alaska, “out of the blue,” according to the Canadian outlet Global News. This apparently turned into a larger campaign, with air traffic controllers across Canada – in places like Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Moncton – buying pizzas for colleagues across the US, including Seattle, Utah, and New York, Global News reported.
“The next thing we knew, our members were buying pizzas left, right and center for the colleagues in the US,” Duffey told the Associated Press.
“As it stands right now, I believe we’re up to 36 facilities that have received pizza from Canada, and that number is growing by the hour,” he added. He estimated that 300 pizzas had been sent out to American centers by Sunday afternoon.
- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Several air traffic controllers posted photos of their $0 pay stubs on Twitter last week amid the US federal government’s partial shutdown.
The shutdown started December 22 after Democrats refused President Donald Trump’s demand that a spending bill to keep the government open include billions of dollars in funding for a wall along the southern US border.
The shutdown is now the longest in US history, with 800,000 government employees unsure when their next paycheck is coming.
“Air traffic control is a very stressful job,” Duffey told the AP. “They say you have to be 100% right, 100% of the time. People just don’t need to be reporting to work with the added stress of worrying about how to pay their mortgages and grocery bills on top of it.”
Tony Walsh, an air traffic controller at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, told Global News that 16 extra-large pizzas had arrived for the 85 people who worked the night shift on Friday.
“Many of us had just gotten our first paychecks saying we wouldn’t be getting paid,” he said.
“That little gesture meant so much,” he said, adding, “We can really continue and push through what we’re going through.”
- Carlos Barria/Reuters
Some air traffic controllers thanked their Canadian counterparts on Twitter.
— NATCA EWR (@NATCAEWR) January 13, 2019
— kmchugh329 (@McHugh_Kyle1) January 11, 2019
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which represents America’s 22,790 air-traffic controllers, is suing the federal government.
The union alleges that the government “unlawfully deprived NATCA members of their earned wages without due process” and thus violated the Fifth Amendment.
Employees who are working unpaid are due to receive back pay when the government reopens. But those who were furloughed, or temporarily laid off, may not get paid.