In 2018, the Union filed policy grievance CHQ-18-20. This grievance was filed due to the fact that Air Canada declined the Union’s invitation to enter into discussions to bargain the Service Director wage rate for the Boeing 737 Max. The grievance proceeded to arbitration on Monday, March 29, 2021 with Chief Arbitrator William Kaplan.
In the Union’s opinion, when the Company introduces a new aircraft type during the term of the Collective Agreement, either party may open negotiations to set the wage rate for Service Directors as per Article 23.03 which reads as follows:
23.03 INTRODUCTION OF NEW AIRCRAFT
23.03.01 In the event that new aircraft types are introduced during the term of the Agreement, negotiations may be opened to resolve the wages and hours of work for such equipment.
The Union’s view on the above article is that the word “may” should be interpreted as “permissive and empowering” and that once negotiations were opened, both parties were required to make every effort to reach an agreement.
The Company’s view was that the parties were capable of determining whether the obligation to negotiate was mandatory or not. In their view the obligation to negotiate as outlined in Article 23.03.01 was not mandatory. They referenced the use of the word “shall” in L60.04.03 that was negotiated in 2015. This article states that: “In the event that new wide-body aircraft types are introduced during the term of this LOU, negotiations shall be opened to resolve the issues set out in Article 23.03.01”. The Company put forth arguments that by virtue of this language there was no mandatory requirement to negotiate the introduction of a new narrow-body aircraft.
Chief Arbitrator Kaplan provided his decision yesterday dismissing the grievance. He concluded that “…Article 23.03.01 is permissive. Either party can seek to bargain mid-term about wage rates on the introduction of new aircraft, but neither party is required to do so.” A full copy of his award can be accessed by clicking HERE.
The Union is disappointed in the outcome and put forth strong arguments on past practice among other things. One thing this decision will provide is an important interpretation of Article 23.03 and will guide us on how to address this article in future negotiations.