As the U.S. government shut-down enters the fourth week, 350,000 civil servants have been effectively laid off (furloughed). In some unique sectors, such as air traffic control and the prison sector, 400,000 more federal workers are being asked to work without pay.
Recognizing the injustice of the government tactic, Canadian air traffic controllers represented by Unifor Local 5454-Canadian Air Traffic Control Association sprang into action.
Beginning with the team at the Edmonton Area Control Centre and spreading quickly across the continent, Canadian air traffic controllers ordered pizza for their counterparts at more than 75 locations in the U.S.
“Our members were having discussions for weeks about how they could support the U.S. controllers,” said Peter Duffey, President of Local 5454-CATCA. “One night it dawned on some of our folks that this was a straightforward and fun way to show kindness. The controllers in Edmonton wanted to buy them dinner.”
The pizza solidarity campaign has caught the attention of media worldwide. From CNN to the BBC, Local 5454-CATCA’s campaign struck a chord because it shows that worker solidarity can transcend borders and high-level partisan battles.
“I think it’s a good example of what Canadians are about,” said Duffey. “It was a good news story in an otherwise bleak situation for U.S. federal workers,” Duffey said.
Unifor Local 5454 unites all of Canada’s air traffic controllers from coast to coast.