New Deal at Air Canada Gets Approval of Union Leaders, Workplace Representatives

June 19, 2011, 1:50 PM EST

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More than 120 CAW leaders and workplace representatives at Air Canada voiced their unanimous approval at a meeting in Toronto today, after reviewing the contents of the new tentative agreement reached on June 16.

CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross expressed her appreciation at the support of the workplace representatives across the country, along with crucial support by CUPE, IAMAW, Air Canada Pilots Association members and members of CUPW, CEP and the broader labour movement. 

"We have waited along time for this day," said Ross. "This was a very difficult round of negotiations with Air Canada and I'm proud of the agreement we reached on behalf of our members."

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said that he is pleased with what the CAW was able to achieve for Air Canada workers at the bargaining table. The new agreement includes wage increases, improvements to benefits and maintains the defined benefit pension plan for current Air Canada workers. The issue of the defined benefit pension plan for new hires will be sent to a mediation process and then failing a resolve, will be sent to a jointly-chosen arbitrator. Dates have not yet been set. 

"I'm inspired by the activism of Air Canada workers, not just in the time of the strike, but during the series of rallies and events that took place across the country during negotiations," said Lewenza. "They spoke up clearly in defense of good working conditions and pension security for all and against the cutbacks in customer service for Air Canada passengers."

Lewenza expressed his frustration at the interference of the federal government in the collective bargaining process, only 16 hours into a strike. "We were able to reach a negotiated settlement with Air Canada and it is with absolutely no thanks to the federal government who were only too happy to strip workers of their collective bargaining rights," said Lewenza.

"No worker or union member anywhere in the country should take this kind of extreme interference lightly. I would urge new Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt to instead start acting in the best interest of both sides and allow parties to resolve their conflicts through the collective bargaining process."

Ratification meetings will take place this coming week right across the country, with results to be released on Monday, June 27, via Canada News Wire.
The new agreement would cover 3,800 CAW members who work in customer service and sales in major airports and call centres. Negotiations began on February 11. The collective agreement expired on February 28.

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