You have probably never met him, or even know his name, but today all Flight Attendants in Canada have lost one of their greatest friends, allies and warriors.
Last weekend, Richard Balnis, the retired CUPE Senior Researcher who dedicated decades of his life towards fighting for Flight Attendant’s rights, recognition, and workplace safety, passed away after a long battle with cancer.
While Richard may have been unknown to most members, his impact on our community has been enormous. An extraordinarily intelligent activist possessed with an almost superhuman amount of institutional memory, Richard was devoted to Flight Attendants and their issues, and successfully lobbied on our behalf on countless issues for many years. Richard was extremely well known, respected, (and often feared) by Government officials, Transport Canada bureaucrats, and Airline executives – even though he sat on the opposite side of the table, they listened to him. Given his wealth of knowledge and experience, his advice was often heeded. Had it not been for his persistence, his hard work and his influence, the 1:50 ratio would likely have been adopted a very long time ago.
Last year we produced a short video congratulating Richard on his retirement, where several notable speakers spoke about his impact on our community.
You can view this video at the following link:
Richard has taught, guided and mentored so many of us working at the Union. His passing is a significant tragedy for all of us. And although he retired a year and a half ago from CUPE due to his health struggles, he has enthusiastically continued to work for us on a number of important files, and was still in fact acting as one of our primary collective bargaining advisors up until his passing.
Richard leaves behind his lovely wife France Pelletier, a retired Air Canada Flight Attendant and previous Health & Safety Committee Chairperson. We offer her our deepest heartfelt condolences, and join her in grieving the loss of this truly unique, irreplaceable man.
Goodbye, Richard. You will be missed.
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE