Air Canada Bargaining Committee News: Issue #1

Air Canada Bargaining Committee News: Issue #1

February 7, 2017 at 10:35 AM


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Nine cities, nine airports and one reservations office with three more reservations offices, Customer Journey Management (CJM) and Customer Relations (CR) are still to come. Each location identified commonalities within the system; both positive and negative. The uniqueness of each location also was evident. Consistent with all airports is the lack of staffing and the need to have more Lead Agents as quickly as possible. As the year moves forward the bargaining committee will continue to work on resolving the issues raised by our members. Below are the key issues which were discussed at all of the meetings.


New Leads Program

Who knows our work best? Obviously, our people. In 2016 the company asked the bargaining committee to identify areas where they [the company] could improve their relationship with our members. After discussions with our members, the committee responded to the company stating that their strategy of hiring managers with little or no airline/sales experience was a significant issue. Soaring Timatic violation fines and a directionless management style was hampering our members from performing their duties. Our findings showed that the massive reduction in Lead numbers over the last six years caused these complications. We convinced the company that reintroducing a vibrant Leads Program would be advantageous to the success of the company and improving our members’ abilities to carry out their functions. Supporting Leads with training and development and giving them the latitude to run the operation would generate a positive reaction. An agreement was born and the company is currently in the process of testing and interviewing 30 additional Lead Agents for airports.* Lead Agents that are currently on a bid line will not have to retest. All other Lead-qualified members must retest and interview for a permanent Lead vacancy. As the program evolves there will be additional Lead Agent opportunities available. As a by-product of this revitalization, managers will also receive additional training and be left to manage the workforce rather than the operation.

*There is an ongoing issue with the testing process which will be rectified shortly. An additional bulletin will explain the remedy.


Premium Agent

The Premium Agent program was initially introduced into the 'A stations' and is now slowly being introduced to the 'B stations.' On the upcoming spring bid, the Premium Agents will be coming to YHZ, YEG, YWG and YYT airport locations.


Negative Passenger Interactions

Over the last number of years there has been a rise in interactions between passengers and agents. In the United States, there is a law that was enacted in 2001 which protected Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers from aggressive passengers. In early January, 2017, the United Sates Department of Justice confirmed that the law also included and protected airline workers who are victims of aggressive passengers. No similar Canadian law is in place for our members. Unifor will be actively perusing similar legislation under the Canadian Air Transportation Act review. At the last UMHQ (Union Management Headquarters Meeting) in December, 2016, the union raised the issue that there was no consistent policy for our members when faced with an aggressive/disruptive passenger.

There have been occurrences where it is a simple as a person taking a photograph/picture, but also there have been occurrences where the behaviour has been more aggressive. When faced with a situation where it is becoming increasingly uncomfortable or in an escalating scenario, the union is advising our members to take the necessary steps to remove themselves from the situation. Call the manager, the Lead Agent and/or Station Terminal Operation Control (STOC) and advise what is going on. You must follow through as you will be removing yourself from the immediate situation. An alarming number of airports reported that when members called the manager, Corporate Security, STOC or the Police, the response they received was less than helpful. This issue has been raised with the company and the expectation is that Air Canada will provide a comprehensive standard operating procedure (SOP) for dealing with such situations. Further, the company will be providing direction and guidance to members who may be victims of such behaviour.


B Station – IROP/Diversions

At the December UMHQ, the subject of irregular operations (IROP) was raised as a significant concern. Staffing in the evenings or early mornings at these locations is generally very low. Usually there is only a STOC manager in the airport, and when diversions happen, there is no standard operating procedure (SOP). Agents are left to try to figure out what to do with the protection of passengers and try to determine how to make the operation work. The union suggested that a focus group be formed to work on a plan of action and SOP that will assist members when certain situations arise.


Bill C-27

This is a piece of legislation that the Federal Liberal government introduced to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act to provide a framework to introduce target benefit pension plans (TBP’s) for employers in federally regulated workplaces. The legislation, despite minor differences, has the same objective as the Conservative government’s proposal in 2014. It is a smoke-and-mirrors scheme that opens the way for employers to attack good Defined Benefit (DB) pension plans. The agenda is to allow employers to convert DB plans for current employees to TBPs. We are not opposed to TBPs on a “go forward” basis where only defined contribution (DC) plans exist or no pension plans at all. However, the Federal government is opening the way for employers to convert the DB plans for current members to TBPs. Furthermore, all past benefits and retiree’s pensions could be converted, meaning members that have already retired could find their existing benefits affected, after paying into the plan over the course of their entire working lives. The new legislation outlines that consent would be required before a conversion could take place, but Unions could face significant pressure in collective bargaining to convert DB plans to TBPs. For unionized workplaces, this new target benefit plan could only be accepted through the ratification process with the membership.

There are several documents on the Unifor Local 2002 website explaining this new legislation, as well as a pre-formatted letter for you to send to both your own member of parliament and Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Please take the time to send your email to them.

We have already collected more than 1,000 signatures from our members, but we need more. Unifor will also be lobbying the Members of Parliament in Ottawa this month to fight against this new legislation. The Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliates are organizing against Bill C-27.


Maximum 416 Additional Hours of Work

The Labour Standards Act allows for 48 hours of work per week, which we average over a one year period. This equates to 2,496 hours of work per year. The averaging period for the maximum hours of work is still calculated on an annual basis from April 1 to March 31. However, there have been some beneficial changes. The calculation is to include hours actually worked, not all hours compensated for. For example, if you have 5 weeks of entitled vacation, this equates to 200 hours of pay for hours not actually worked. The hours are not to be included in the calculation of hours of work. Other exclusions include Vacation Purchase Program (VPP) and General Holiday Option (GHO), bereavement leave, paid sick time, and statutory holidays where you are paid when you did not actually work. This change was effective late last week and should add considerable room to anyone who was close to or exceeding the maximum.


In solidarity,

Unifor Air Canada Bargaining Committee:
Cheryl Robinson – President Local 2002
Leslie Dias – Unifor National Staff Representative
Tammy Moore – Atlantic Region
Benoit Lapointe – Eastern Region
Frances Galambosy – Central Region (Chairperson)
Joanne Goulet – Western Region
Steve Murphy – Pacific Region



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