Gift of pizza given to U.S. com­rades

Waterloo Region Record - - Canada & World - MOR­GAN LOWRIE

MON­TREAL — Cana­dian air traf­fic con­trollers have bought hun­dreds of piz­zas for their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts over the past few days in what has be­come an in­dus­try-wide show of sup­port dur­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s par­tial shut­down.

Peter Duf­fey, the head of the Cana­dian Air Traf­fic Con­trol As­so­ci­a­tion, said the ini­tia­tive be­gan Thurs­day when em­ploy­ees at Ed­mon­ton’s con­trol cen­tre took up a col­lec­tion to buy pies for con­trollers in Anchorage, Alaska.

Other fa­cil­i­ties across Canada de­cided to join in, and the idea snow­balled.

“The next thing we knew, our mem­bers were buy­ing piz­zas left, right and cen­tre for the col­leagues in the U.S,” Duf­fey said Sun­day in a phone in­ter­view.

“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.”

Duf­fey es­ti­mates that as of Sun­day af­ter­noon, some 300 piz­zas had been re­ceived by Amer­i­can con­trollers, many of whom took to so­cial me­dia to ex­press their grat­i­tude.

Duf­fey said many union mem­bers had been look­ing for a way to show sol­i­dar­ity with their Amer­i­can col­leagues, who have been work­ing with­out pay due to the par­tial shut­down.

“Air traf­fic con­trol is a very stress­ful job,” he said.

“They say you have to be 100 per cent right, 100 per cent 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.”

He said one anony­mous Cana­dian donor con­trib­uted $500 to the pizza fund, while an­other sin­gle-hand­edly bought lunch for two fa­cil­i­ties in Phoenix, to thank them for “tak­ing care of all the snow­birds from Western Canada who go down for the win­ter.”

Ron Singer, the me­dia man­ager for Nav Canada, which man­ages the coun­try’s civil air nav­i­ga­tion, says Cana­dian and Amer­i­can air traf­fic con­trollers in­ter­act “on a daily ba­sis” as they man­age North Amer­i­can airspace.

“There’s a bond there, au­to­mat­i­cally,” he said in a phone in­ter­view.

He said that as of Sun­day af­ter­noon, Nav Canada em­ploy­ees from all of Canada’s seven con­trol cen­tres, and many of its tow­ers, have bought lunch for their U.S. coun­ter­parts.

Some 10,000 air traf­fic con­trollers in the United States have been work­ing with­out pay since late De­cem­ber due to the on­go­ing gov­ern­ment shut­down. Their union filed a law­suit in fed­eral court in Wash­ing­ton on Fri­day, ask­ing for an or­der com­pelling the gov­ern­ment to pay them what they’re owed.

GRA­HAM HUGHES THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Cana­dian air traf­fic con­trollers have bought hun­dreds of piz­zas for their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts over the past few days in what’s be­come an in­dus­try-wide show of sup­port dur­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment's par­tial shut­down.

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