It won’t pay their bills, but it was certainly a kind gesture. Air traffic controllers from Atlantic Canada directed a fleet of special arrivals into the New York Air Traffic Control Centre on Friday night. The made a gesture of solidarity and respect.
The gesture was covered in a layer of gooey melted cheese.
A Canadian Air Traffic Controller Association ordered pizzas for all of their colleagues at the control centre on Long Island. These American controllers have been working without pay since the partial U.S. government shutdown began on Dec. 22.
“It’s been so overwhelmingly negative and it’s nice to see that there’s solidarity out there. There’s people out there who are just saying, ‘Hey, I work with you as a friend or a colleague and here’s a nice gesture of friendship, that we care,'” said David Lombardo, a former air traffic controller who lives in Long Island and runs a social media site for people in the industry.
He posted a notice to Reddit about the impending pizza arrival seen in the hallways of the New York control center.
“Aviation is a really tight-knit group of people, it’s like a family. And plus, it goes against the whole rhetoric here that we’re talking about because it’s an international boundary!
“They’re worried about their mortgages, their medical bills. It’s one thing to have a date set and say, ‘Hey you’re going to get your back pay in a week or two,’ but they have absolutely no idea when they’re going to get paid, And you can imagine that’s pretty disheartening and pretty scary for many people.”
According to Doug Church, deputy director of public affairs with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in the U.S., there are now 14,000 controllers working without pay.
And they’re thrilled about the pizzas.
“It’s just a really good shot in the arm of positive energy and positive emotion to know that, ‘Hey they’ve got our back,'” he said.
“On behalf of the entire NATCA and air traffic control around this country, we extend our thanks and our gratitude.”