CAW Local 2002 Members Overwhelmingly Approve New Agreement at Air Canada

June 27, 2011, 3:10 PM EST

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CAW Local 2002 members at Air Canada have voted 87.7 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the new agreement was achieved after weeks of tough bargaining on many difficult issues, which included company demands for significant concessions and cuts to the pension plan.

"The great spirit of our membership and the fight back they launched across the country helped ensure this strong agreement was negotiated and overwhelmingly ratified," Lewenza said. "The solidarity of our leadership and members as well as the support of IAM, CUPE and union members from across the broader labour movement was critical to reaching a solid negotiated settlement."

Lewenza blasted the Harper government for indicating within 16 hours of the strike starting that it would intervene to end it with back-to-work legislation. "The Harper Conservatives' intervention into these talks was heavy handed and only made bargaining even more difficult."

"This was an unprecedented intrusion into free collective bargaining," Lewenza said.

The new agreement provides wage increases of nine per cent over four years. It also re-establishes a 30-minute paid lunch break, secures work at Jazz and provides many other improvements.

The key elements of the pension plan remain in place. The only adjustment occurs in January 2013 in the early retirement provisions of the agreement.

The issue of pension benefits for new hires will be sent to a mediation process and then failing a resolve, will be sent to a jointly chosen arbitrator.

CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross said she is "proud of the confidence the membership has shown our bargaining team by ratifying this new collective agreement."

"It is also clear that the company and current federal government have to recognize the resolve of our members to be treated respectfully and dealt with fairly," Ross said.

 Paul Janssen, Chair of the Master Bargaining Committee, said "the committee is delighted we were able to achieve well deserved gains for our membership. We have had a tremendous challenge in the last few years, and our membership has finally achieved a solid collective agreement."

"Our membership at Air Canada showed tremendous courage in giving a strong strike mandate and showing true solidarity on the picket lines across the country," Janssen said.

The CAW represents 3,800 members who are customer service and sales agents at Air Canada. They voted on the tentative agreement at a series of ratification meetings over the last seven days.

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