Written byShiladitya Ray
In a show of industry-wide support, Canadian air traffic controllers, over the past few days, have bought hundreds of pizzas for their cash-strapped American counterparts who are languishing as a result of the ongoing US government shutdown.
For the 10,000 odd US air traffic controllers who have been working without pay since the shutdown began, the Canadian initiative comes as a relief.
The initiative to buy pizzas began on Thursday when Canadian air traffic controllers at the Edmonton control center in Alberta, ordered pizzas for American air traffic controllers situated around 2,000 miles away in Anchorage, Alaska.
The idea soon snowballed, and it has been reported that 36 air traffic control centers in the US have received pizzas, courtesy Canadian employees.
As of Sunday, over 300 pizzas had been delivered.
"The next thing we knew, our members were buying pizzas left, right and center for the colleagues in the U.S. 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," said Peter Duffy, the head of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association.
But why the sudden show of solidarity?
Canadian air traffic controllers interact daily with their American counterparts as they manage North American air space.
The job itself is a demanding one, and requires controllers to be fully alert and functional to avoid untoward incidences.
Given this common ground, and the stresses of the job, the Canadians decided to show the Americans some hospitality.
Meanwhile, the partial US government shutdown seems to have no visible solution in sight.
Interestingly, the shutdown has now entered day 24, and is the longest US government shutdown in history.
As it stands, around three-quarters of the government, including vital services and government agencies like the military and the Department of Health and Human Services are fully funded till September 2019.
However, the remaining quarter of the government is facing disruption, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been affected by the partial shutdown.
In terms of numbers, over 420,000 federal employees deemed essential for the functioning of the government are working without pay, including 41,000 law enforcement officers and 150,000 Homeland Security employees.
Meanwhile, more than 380,000 federal employees, including NASA, Commerce department, Housing and Urban development, Internal Revenue Service, and National Park Service employees, have been 'furloughed' or barred from doing work. They aren't getting paid either.
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