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Government shutdown: Canadian air traffic control buy pizza for US



Canadian air traffic controllers have bought hundreds of pizzas for their US colleagues who aren’t getting paid as the government shutdown continues.

Peter Duffey, 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 Canadian outlet Global News. This 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 said, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

“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.

Federal air traffic controller union members protest the partial government shutdown in Washington on January 10. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is suing the federal government.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

The gesture came as several air traffic controllers photos of their $0 pay stubs on Twitter last week amid the federal government’s partial shutdown.

The shutdown started on December 22 after President Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats disagreed over funding for Trump’s desired wall between the US-Mexico.

It is currently the longest in US history, and 800,000 people don’t know when their next paycheck is coming.

Duffey said: “Air traffic control is a very stressful job … 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.”

Read More: Air-traffic controllers working unpaid during the government shutdown are posting their $0 pay stubs on Twitter

Tony Walsh, an air traffic controller at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, said 16 extra-large pizzas 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 in a phone interview on Sunday, according to Global News.

“That little gesture meant so much… we can really continue and push through what we’re going through.”

The federal government shutdown is now the longest in US history. Here, a demonstration against the shutdown in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2019.
Carlos Barria/Reuters

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), which represents America’s 22,790 air-traffic controllers, is now 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 that 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.

Air-traffic controllers earn a median of $124,540 per year. There’s already a shortage of controllers, and the job requires four years of training.

Read More: Air traffic controllers haven’t been paid since the government shutdown began, and now their union is suing the federal government

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