In a generous show of solidarity with their colleagues south of the border, Canadian air traffic controllers have been purchasing pizzas to be delivered to American air traffic controllers who aren’t getting paid during the government shutdown. It’s estimated that around 300 pizzas have been delivered so far, to over 36 facilities nationwide. The pizzas are coming from air traffic controllers all across Canada, from Vancouver to Toronto, and they’re certainly a bright spot in an otherwise dour shutdown. This is the first week that many government workers, including air traffic controllers, didn’t receive paychecks.
According to Tony Walsh, an air traffic controller at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, 16 extra-large pizzas arrived without warning for the 85 night shift employees 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.”
Peter Duffey, president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, said, “Air traffic control is a very stressful job. They say you have to be 100 percent right, 100 percent 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.” The pizzas are being funded largely by individual workers, eager to show their solidarity and support for their American colleagues.
And the gesture hasn’t gone unnoticed; American air traffic controllers have been expressing their gratitude on Twitter.