Air Canada Court Decision Proves We Were Right!

Thursday February 7, 2013

For Immediate Release

Toronto, ON – “The court decision handed down this week ordering Air Canada to maintain repair and overhaul operations in Canada proves we were right all along,” said a pleased Dave Ritchie, IAM General Vice President.

On Monday, the Quebec Superior Court sided with the Quebec government’s contention that Air Canada was obligated to do their maintenance work in Canada. The Manitoba Government also supported this legal action.

The Air Canada Public Participation Act of 1988 required the privatized airline maintain maintenance facilities in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montréal. The workers at these facilities are represented by the IAM.

In 2007, Air Canada sold off its heavy maintenance division to Aveos Fleet Performance Incorporated. After Air Canada significantly reduced the amount of work it gave to Aveos, the aircraft overhaul company filed for bankruptcy in March 2012 throwing 2,600 Canadian workers off the job. Air Canada has since moved almost all of its aircraft heavy maintenance previously performed by Aveos, out of the country.

While the IAM itself was precluded from taking legal action, it asked the Quebec and Manitoba governments to seek legal enforcement of Air Canada’s obligations. “I want to thank the governments of Quebec and Manitoba for acting upon our suggestion,” said Ritchie. “This ruling is a victory for all Canadian workers.”

“This doesn’t mean that Air Canada will have to reopen its heavy maintenance division and that everyone will get their jobs back. But it does mean that the airline will have to maintain and overhaul its aircraft in Montréal and Winnipeg and that’s good news because good paying jobs will come back to Canada.”

“We are disappointed that Air Canada has announced it is appealing this decision,” added Ritchie. “We urge them to drop their appeal and move quickly to meet their legal and moral obligations to these communities and Canada. I have made this request today by letter to Air Canada President and CEO Calin Rovinescu.”


For further information:
Dave Ritchie – IAM Canadian General Vice President
416-386-1789 Ext #6323
Fred Hospes – IAM District Lodge 140 President and Directing General Chairperson
Bill Trbovich – IAM Director of Communications
416-386-1789 Ext #6331/416-735-9765

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Unions In Solidarity with the Quebec Student Strike

The Quebec student strike against an increase in tuition fees and for free education is a crucial battle against the austerity agenda and for accessible, quality post-secondary education. This is the longest student strike in Quebec history, with over 170,000 students on strike and over 200,000 demonstrating on March 22. It remains strong in the face of the Charest government’s refusal to negotiate and university/CEGEP administration efforts to use injunctions and threats to force students back to school.

We recognize that students in Quebec pay lower fees than in the rest of Canada because of a long tradition of activist mobilization for quality, accessible education. We stand in solidarity with the student strikers and the professors, campus workers and community members who have supported this movement. Students in Quebec are fighting against the commercialization of education and user pay through tuition increases that create massive barriers to access and student debt that profits the banks while haunting students for years after graduation. We believe victory for the student movement in Quebec will signal a new level of mobilization for proper funding of quality, accessible education and against the austerity agenda. We commit ourselves to the defense of those arrested. We strongly support the mobilizations to defend free political expression on campus and to continue the strikes until victory, even in the face of repression.

Together, we can stop the hike.


Jamie Ross
CAW Local 2002

Chuck Atkinson
President & Directing General Chairperson
IAMAW Transportation, District 140

John Reis
CUPE Local 4092

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Letter from President of Local Lodge 764 (Aveos) to the Prime Minister

click to download pdf file of letter


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Machinists Union Files Lawsuit to Protect Union Rights

The IAM announced it has launched a court challenge to the legislation known as Bill C-33, used by the Conservative government in Canada to deny Machinists Union members the right to strike Air Canada and to send them into a biased arbitration process.

The government’s heavy-handed use of this back-to-work legislation prevented 8,300 Machinists members at Air Canada from taking legal strike action on March 12, 2012.

“Removing free collective bargaining and the right to strike from workers in the federal sector will poison labour relations between our members and Air Canada for years to come,” said IAM Canadian General Vice President Dave Ritchie. “The freedom of association is one of the fundamental rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What other rights will they take away from working Canadians in the future if we do not take a stand now?”

Paul Cavalluzzo, a leading constitutional lawyer, will represent the IAM. Mr.Cavalluzzo is also representing the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in a similar challenge.

“The government did not allow the free collective bargaining process to run its course,” explained Ritchie. “Instead the government came down clearly on the side of the employer and declared open season on workers’ rights. We simply cannot stand by and allow that to happen.”

The IAM is the largest union at Air Canada representing 8,300 Line Maintenance Mechanics, Auto Mechanics, Millwrights, Electricians, Inspectors, Technical Writers, Planners, Instructors, Cabin Groomers, Aircraft cleaners, Baggage and Cargo Handlers, Baggage and Cargo Agents, and Weight and Balance Agents.

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IAMAW LL764 and the BCFED ask BC Legislators to Co-operate for 350 family supporting jobs

This article was first published by the BC Federationist, the new online journal of the BC Federation of Labour

March 27 brought a rare moment in Question Period, the usually combative 30-minute battles where the opposition throws pointed questions and the government replies with partisan non-answers. The basis of unity was the cause of more than 350 former employees of Air Canada’s primary aircraft overhaul supplier Aveos Fleet Performance, who had learned their company was declaring insolvency one week earlier.

Earlier in the day, a delegation of 70 of the dismissed workers, led by IAMAW Local Lodge 764 President Christopher Hiscock and members of his Executive, along with B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair, had presented their case to Dix and Bell. Both Dix and Bell committed to a non-partisan approach on the issue – agreeing that politics were secondary to protecting more than 350 family-supporting jobs.

Dix set the tone by alerting Bell and the BC Liberal government in advance of question period that the issue would be up first. Bell followed the lead of Dix by introducing the women and men he had met with just minutes earlier to the House, reading out their names and years of experience working on Air Canada’s fleet. He then invited a collegial approach to tackling the issue.

Dix took up the offer. “I think the matter is too important for partisanship, so I wanted to suggest to the Premier or the minister responsible for jobs that we get together as a House and pass a joint resolution in support of those workers, calling on the Prime Minister to intervene — consistent with federal law and consistent with the importance of these jobs to British Columbia — to protect these jobs. So will the Premier or the minister join with me today in proposing a joint resolution?” Dix asked.

Bell responded with an answer that only partially satisfied the onlooking Machinists and the Opposition across the House. While he recognized the importance of a solution, he failed to commit to a joint resolution. Dix followed by reminding the Minister that the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba had already taken similar measures, and committed to fighting for the jobs of former Aveos employees in their provinces. Dix suggested that a resolution would advance the cause.

This time, Bell agreed that his government would consider a resolution and would consider participating in a delegation to Ottawa to meet with federal leaders on the issue, following a conversation with the federal Minister responsible.

For the former employees of IAMAW, the news of cooperation was encouraging; however, they recognize that there is still much work to do. As the members boarded the bus to return to Vancouver, Hiscock committed to his members that the union would do all it could to ensure Air Canada upholds the terms of the Air Canada Public Participation Act and re-opens its heavy maintenance facilities in Vancouver and across Canada.


  • Air Canada has operated heavy maintenance divisions in Canada since its formation as an airline. Primary maintenance facilities for Air Canada until last year were divisions of Air Canada in Montreal, Mississauga, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
  • The Air Canada Public Participation Act requires the airline to maintain heavy maintenance operations in Canada, and specifically in Montreal, Mississauga and Winnipeg. It is the union’s position that YVR is also covered by the Act, despite not being specified.
  • The YVR operation was subsequently acquired by Air Canada in the merger with Canadian Airlines.
  • The workers at YVR have more than 3,000 years of experience between them and are recognized as one of the premier maintenance teams in the world.
  • Heavy maintenance operations were contracted out to Aveos Fleet Performance in July 2011.
  • Employees were assured of the viability of Aveos and Air Canada’s long term commitment to conducting maintenance at the existing facilities. On the basis of those assurances, senior workers took positions with Aveos instead of transferring to other positions within the Air Canada system.
  • Approximately 8 months after the ink had dried on the transfer of operations from Air Canada to Aveos, Aveos filed for protection from creditors and immediately dismissed all employees.
  • Heavy maintenance is highly-skilled, highly-specialized work that is not easily transferable. Many former Aveos employees have between 25 and 35 years of experience.
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