While enduring the longest government shutdown in United States history, hundreds of pizzas have made their way to American Air Traffic Controllers thanks to their Canadian counterparts.
Canadian Air Traffic Control Association (CATCA) Communications Director Tania Calverley says it began with members in an Edmonton facility deciding to buy pizzas for their colleagues in Alaska.
“It was and it is very much a grassroots initiative, it’s not union driven, it’s not coming out of union coffers,” says Calverley. “It really is a pass-the-hat approach that Canadian air traffic controllers wanted to do a small gesture, if you will, to show to the NATCA (National Air Traffic Controllers Association) controllers that we stand alongside them.”
Calverley says being a traffic controller is an incredibly stressful job, even without a government shutdown leaving them without pay, so Canadian members wanted to help reduce the stress burden of being at work.
“Air traffic control is a job where you have to be 100 per cent correct, 100 per cent of the time, with zero room for error, and your focus when you walk into work for the day, your focus is there, it can’t be anywhere else,” says Calverley.
She adds the initiative started Friday in Edmonton, but has since snowballed, and the reaction from their peers south of the border has been heartwarming.
“The thanks, and the appreciation, and the understanding of what that pizza represents has been loud and clear, you know, a small gesture of kindness, as they say, goes a long way, and who knew pizza could so far?”
Calverley says they are incredibly proud of their members, adding as of noon on Monday, 60 American Area Control Centres (ACCs) had received pizza or were going to soon.