NDP URGES CONSERVATIVES TO UPHOLD AIR CANADA PUBLIC PARTICIPATION ACT

Machinists Rally at the Manitoba Legislature March 23, 2012 Against the Aveos Closure

TORONTO – The Aveos shutdown breaches key sections of the Air Canada Public Participation Act, New Democrats argued today. The Act mandates that Air Canada’s overhaul operations must remain in Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal. This ensured that Canadians would continue to benefit after the privatization of the airline. The overhaul work was previously contracted out to Aveos, which ceased operations this week.

New Democrat critic for Transport, Olivia Chow, spoke out today on this issue.

“Thousands of good Canadian jobs have been lost and we know there is also a legal obligation for Air Canada to maintain overhaul operations in these locations. The Conservatives must stand up and investigate this closure to ensure that the Act is enforced and that overhaul operations can resume.”

Machinists demonstrate in Richmond, BC against the Aveos closure on Monday March 19, 2012

The NDP fully supports the obligations in the Air Canada Public Participation Act to maintain overhaul operations in Canada. Going forward, New Democrats will continue to press the Conservatives to ensure that this act is upheld given the Aveos closure.

“There are 1,800 people in Quebec now out of work, and there are numerous calls for action to save these jobs and to ensure that Air Canada fulfills its obligations to the Act. Quebec has been hit hard by cuts to the aerospace sector and we need these cuts to end now,” said Industry critic Guy Caron.

Machinists demonstrate at the Quebec legislature against Aveos closure on March 21, 2012

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Submission by Dave Ritchie to the Senate Concerning Bill C-33, An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of air service operations.

On behalf of the International Association on Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), we would like to thank the Committee for giving us the opportunity to express our views on Bill C-33.

As the union representing the 8,600 members of the Air Canada Technical, Maintenance and Operational Support employees at Air Canada who are directly affected by this legislation, we were not given a chance to appear before a House of Commons Committee due to the Bill’s rapid passage through the House.

We are deeply disappointed by this misconceived legislation, which takes away our members’ right to strike and fundamentally undermines collective bargaining in the federal jurisdiction across Canada.

We have been bargaining in good faith with Air Canada for several months. After failing to reach a settlement, our members voted a strike mandate, and we gave notice of our intention to legally strike under the terms of the Canada Labour Code as of 12:01 a.m., March 12. Even though we had served the strike notice, we were prepared to bargain right up to the deadline to reach an acceptable agreement and avoid a stoppage.

While our strike action would likely have stopped Air Canada operations and caused inconvenience to some Canadians, there is no evidence, contrary to the Labour Minister’s claim, that an Air Canada strike would have had a significant negative impact on the Canadian economy.

Unfortunately, the Minister has intervened in this dispute, first by a referral to the Canada Industrial Relations Board under Section 87.4 of the Code, and now through this legislation.

Clearly, the CIRB referral was simply a delaying tactic, as an Air Canada work stoppage poses no risk to the health and safety of Canadians – a fact acknowledged by Air Canada, who have never sought an essential services designation under the Code.

Bill C-33 is a direct attack on workers and collective bargaining in the federal jurisdiction. Since virtually any strike would have some economic impact, the government is basically eliminating the right to strike in the federal jurisdiction. This takes away a fundamental right – the right of workers to cooperate and withhold their labour – the main offset that workers have to the overwhelming power of the employer.

While outlawing strikes may seem like a way to enforce labour relations harmony, it has the opposite effect.

The elimination of the right to strike undermines labour relations and collective bargaining. Without the consequences of a potential work stoppage, there is little pressure on the negotiating parties to make the trade-offs that are necessary for effective bargaining.

Without the possibility of a stoppage that “clears the air”, workplace problems fester, and the labour relations climate deteriorates. It does the employer no favour to create an unhappy workforce for the duration of the imposed agreement.

Beyond the fact that it undermines free collective bargaining, Bill C-33 is deeply flawed piece of legislation. It is heavy-handed and tilted in favour of the employer, Air Canada.

The Bill’s use of Final Offer Selection is totally inappropriate. While interest arbitration based on Final Offer Selection may be appropriate where there is only a single item or issue to be decided, it is a terrible method for dealing with a complex collective agreement in which there are many issues and items to be considered and weighed.

The Final Offer process ties the hands of the arbitrator in crafting a balanced deal, and may force him or her to select an unworkable proposal, as the “lesser of evils”. If the objective is ongoing labour peace, giving an interest arbitrator broader leeway to produce a fair settlement is a more sensible approach.

We are also concerned that Section 14(2) of the Bill seems to direct the arbitrator to set the tentative agreement of February 10, which was rejected by our membership, as an upper limit on the terms of the settlement. This is deeply unfair, as we were working with Air Canada on improvements to this deal, even as the Minister intervened.

Finally, we have some concern about Section 34(1)(a) of the Bill, which would levy a fine of up to $50,000 per day on an individual “acting in the capacity of an officer or representative of the” employer or union, in addition to a fine of up to $1,000 a day for other individuals and up to $100,000 for the employer or union itself.

While we have no intention of violating the law or counseling any of our members to disobey this or any other legislation, we are concerned that there is no clear definition of what it would mean to act in the capacity of an officer or representative of the union. We are concerned that a member who is a steward or a member of a local committee who is found to be in breach of this legislation might be considered to be acting as an officer or representative and subject to a fine of $50,000 a day. This goes beyond any reasonable penalty.

This Bill is deeply unfair and undermines free collective bargaining and labour relations in Canada. We urge the Senate to send it back to the House of Commons for serious reconsideration.

We would welcome your questions.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dave Ritchie
General Vice President

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Machinists Now Represent Toronto Pearson Airport Screeners

Toronto, ON – “This is a significant organizing victory for the airport security screeners at Pearson Airport,” declared a very happy Dave Ritchie.

“We are now representing more airport security screeners than anyone else in Canada.” The Canadian General Vice President of the IAMAW was reacting to news that the Machinists were victorious in a Canadian Industrial Relations Board authorized vote which decided who would represent the 1,624 airport screeners at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

“We are simply ecstatic with the outcome,” said IAMAW District Lodge 140 Organizer Ian Morland. “I can’t thank our organizing committee enough for the hard work they put into this year long campaign. Now these workers have a union that will represent their concerns and be their voice in dealing with the employer. They came to us for quality representation and we intend to deliver it to them.”

The IAMAW also represents more than 1200 airport security screeners in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

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LL 764: A GROUP WALK WITH PICKET SIGNS AND PLACARDS

 B U L L E T I N

 AIR CANADA TMOS EMPLOYEES

GROUP WALK AND IDEA EXCHANGE

  In an effort to promote physical fitness, stimulate conversation, camaraderie, the exchange of ideas and to help put the “YOU” in Union, LL764 has planned the following group activity:

 

WHAT: A GROUP WALK WITH PICKET SIGNS AND PLACARDS

DATE: MONDAY, MARCH 19TH, 2012

TIME: 10:00

MEETING POINT: NORTH SERVICE ROAD

ADJACENT TO THE SKYTRAIN STATION

AIR CANADA NORTH HANGAR

 

All affected LL764 members on days off or before or after their shift are urged to attend this coordinated group exercise walk and exchange ideas and opinions with your fellow union members. Some suggested topics of conversation might be:

1)    The federal Minister of Labour’s unwarranted intervention in the IAMAW and Air Canada labour dispute and subversion of the collective bargaining process.

2)    Her referral of the matter to the CIRB to suspend our right to strike and bargain fairly.

3)    Her introduction of legislation to continue the suspension of our rights and impose a collective agreement without recourse of appeal.

4)    Air Canada’s reliance on the federal government’s assistance to deny our rights to free collective bargaining to their ultimate advantage.

5)    A general discussion of the high regard, esteem respect and generosity Air Canada has shown towards its employees over the last 10 years.

6)    Executive compensation versus union wage rates as compared to the rate of inflation.

 Respectfully,                                                                                            

 Christopher Hiscock, President

Canadian Airways Lodge 764

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Workers’ Rights under Attack at Air Canada

General Vice President Dave Ritchie Leads 40,000 Canadian Machinists

“The rights and wages of our members at Air Canada are being attacked,” declared Canada GVP Dave Ritchie in response to an effort by Canada’s government to impose ‘Final Offer Selection’ arbitration on bargaining between the union and the airline.

“It’s a sad day for any federally-regulated worker in Canada because this legislation says you do not have the right to strike, period,” said Ritchie. “This will undermine free collective bargaining and poison labor relations across Canada.”
Ritchie says the deck is stacked in Air Canada’s favour and the hands of the arbitrator are tied. “Final Offer Selection does not allow the arbitrator to take into consideration any one item for which it would make sense to change on either side’s behalf,” he said. “She could have accomplished her objectives through the introduction of compulsory arbitration which gives the arbitrator the latitude to forge a balanced agreement.”

“This will cause real harm to our members. This government is decreasing real wages and the rights of our members and I fear this is only the beginning,” added Ritchie.

The IAM is the largest union at Air Canada representing more than 8,600 line maintenance mechanics, auto mechanics, millwrights, electricians, inspectors, technical writers, planners, instructors, baggage and cargo handlers, aircraft cleaners, cabin groomers and weight and balance agents

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