CAW Reaches Tentative Agreement with Air Canada, Picket Lines Come Down
June 16, 2011
The CAW reached a tentative agreement with Air Canada earlier today after more than 12 weeks of grueling negotiations with Air Canada.
After the tentative agreement was announced, picket lines were taken down and plans were established for ratification votes over the next two weeks on the new four-year agreement.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the new agreement is an important achievement for the 3,800 CAW members at Air Canada, who resisted company demands for major pension concessions.
Lewenza said the new agreement covers wages, pensions, benefits and all other key issues in bargaining. But he said the contentious issue of pension benefits for new hires will be sent to arbitration where the union will present the case for continuing a defined benefit pension plan.
The existing defined benefit pension plan remains unchanged until January 1, 2013, when there will be some modifications to the plan. Lewenza said the contract will provide wage increases of nine percent over four years. More contract details will be made public after the ratification meetings.
He blasted the Harper government for indicating only a few hours after the strike started that it would intervene with legislation to end it and arbitrate an outcome. "This is an unprecedented intrusion into free collective bargaining," Lewenza said.
Lewenza said the government's intervention was heavy-handed and made bargaining more difficult. He said the federal government's push for back to work legislation is evidence of how it's going to behave now that it has a majority.
"Don't think for a moment that government intervention settled this strike, far from it. It is always better for us to negotiate a contract than to have it imposed and we have a very good record of negotiating collective agreements," Lewenza said.