Bargaining Reopener Resumption

As you may recall just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union was set to commence the mediation stage of our 2019 Reopener as outlined in the 10-year Collective Agreement MOA.  This process was triggered as a result of the parties’ inability to reach a tentative agreement.  There was a (90) day period of direct bargaining with Air Canada as is required but no agreement was forthcoming and therefore mediation was necessary. The Union and the Company both agreed at that time to postpone the mediation stage, so that we could deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on our membership.

We are now in the process of resuming the mediation stage and will be meeting with Arbitrator Vince Ready next week for some preliminary discussions to see where the parties are at. We have also secured dates for mediation the week of November 7th and will book more dates as required. If the parties are unable to reach a mediated tentative agreement, then either party may refer a maximum of 10 items in dispute to interest arbitration.

We also wish to remind members that if interest arbitration takes place, there is a requirement for cost neutrality for Air Canada Mainline and Air Canada Rouge, except for certain items which could result in an increase in cost for Air Canada Rouge.  Please review the MOA which can be found in the front pages of the Collective Agreement, or by clicking HERE, for more information on the reopener process and limitation.

Your Bargaining Committee is fully committed to achieve some gains despite the restrictions of the language. We will update the membership again following our first week of mediation in November.

In solidarity,

Your ACCEX

Air Canada’s Mandatory Vaccination Policy

Dear Members,

As you’re likely aware by now, Air Canada released its mandatary vaccination policy on Wednesday which covers our members at Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge. The policy was released following the federal government’s announcement on August 13, 2021 that COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandatory for federal employees and those working in federally regulated industries, including the aviation sector, no later than the end of October 2021.   In addition, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced that the vaccination requirement would also extend to travelers.

The Union is aware that mandatory vaccination policies represent a variety of competing interest, rules, and sensitives.  However, we are in agreement with the medical and scientific communities that vaccines are critical to providing a safe work environment for our membership and promote the continuing recovery of our industry.   We continue to encourage all of our members to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their colleagues, and their families.

The Union had some concerns with the timelines applicable to cabin crew in Air Canada’s policies as the government mandate is not planned to come into force until October 31, 2021. However, upon further discussion with Air Canada it is clear that those not vaccinated with a first dose by September 8, 2021 will not be subject to flight removal until the start of the November 2021 block month.

Air Canada’s policy states that “failure to be fully vaccinated by October 30, 2021 will have consequences up to and including unpaid leave or termination”. The policy acknowledges the duty to accommodate under medical and religious grounds which we are pleased to see. We expect that those who claim either exemption will have to provide pre-existing evidence that they meet these criteria.

The Union will challenge any discipline issued to a member who elects not to comply with the vaccination policy as we believe alternative accommodations should be made. As always, the grievance procedure will be followed for any discipline issued to our members.

We had previously provided the membership with a legal opinion that we obtained with the Jazz Flight Attendant Union, CFAU. This was done in order to ensure that you have the necessary information to make your choice as to whether or not to comply with the mandatory vaccination requirement as it could have consequences to your ongoing employment. You can click HERE to review again.

Now that we have Air Canada’s policy on COVID Vaccines, your Union is once again having Legal Counsel and CUPE National review the terms and will file a grievance where the policy is found to be unreasonable or discriminatory.  We have received feedback from many members, both for and against the vaccine and want to once again assure you all, that we are looking at all angles and avenues to ensure that each member is respected and represented though this process.

As always, we will continue to provide updates to the membership as we move closer to the October 30, 2021 deadline.

In solidarity,

Your ACCEX

Continued Staffing Shortage

Without Prejudice

Dear Members,

As you may be aware by now, the Employer issued a Globe Message yesterday evening advising that they were providing a VE premium of 100%, allowing members to exceed 100 hours, and allowing members to waive days off. The shock and dismay we are hearing from members is shared at our level as well.

Here is a breakdown of events:
• The employer reached out on Wednesday evening to attempt to reach an agreement to allow the waiving of the VE cap, GDO removals for reserves, and minimum days off to go to 0.
• The Union immediately looked into this with a counter proposal that included their request with limitations and  a permanent short crewing premium for ALL flights. The current short crewing premium only applies to B14, LOU 18 and LOU22 flights, so this was to include ALL B5 flights, overseas and domestic, wide-body and narrow-body. Our view was that this would actually be no cost proposal to the Employer if they maintained adequate staffing going forward. We could not entertain a short-term fix, to what we are seeing as a long-term issue.
• The Employer said No.

Bottom line, yesterday evening the Company moved ahead with their proposal and willfully violated our Collective Agreement.

The Union wants to remind you of the following:
• The Employer did not maintain members on the CEWS program. The intent of this program was to keep employees connected to their employer and ready to return to work when business activities resumed.
• We have a grievance out on Members that were denied the right to seek outside employment while on layoff, the company wanted you to stay on EI instead or not work in the industry that you are qualified in.
• We have many members denied Educational Leaves.
• Do we need to remind you of the COVID-19 Leave fiasco and the hoops we had to jump through to ensure the code was being followed?

Further, the COVID Tracing Process, something in place for your safety, is completely at the brink of collapse. Yesterday we notified the employer of 26 new flights, as well as reminded them of the 111 outstanding flights.  If Safety First is our priority, how is it that this process is so far behind?  Our members have worked tirelessly through this pandemic, and yet the Company is more focused on beer and wine in economy than COVID being passed to our Cabin Crew.

The Union completely understands the confusion on this and wants to ensure you are well aware that this is VOLUNTARY, the company CANNOT fly you into GDO’s on reserve intentionally, they CANNOT draft you when you are maxed out, and CANNOT waive your days off, these are your contractual rights.

We have filed policy grievance CHQ-21-18 – Violation of Articles 2 and Block Rules (Voluntary Extension Process). Please click HERE for a copy of the grievance form. We continue to review other options to address the continued staffing shortage.

In solidarity,

Your ACCEX

Interim Component Vice President

We wanted to advise that Component Vice-President Theresa Mitchell has gone on a temporary medical leave. As such in consultation with CUPE National, we have selected Carolyn Bugnon, the Vancouver Local 4094 President to replace her as the interim Component Vice-President. In addition, Local 4094 Vice President Alison Kjertinge will be the acting President while Carolyn is absent from the Local.

We wish Theresa a speedy recovery and appreciate Carolyn stepping forward!

In solidarity,

Your ACCEX

Early Retirement Incentive Program

Your Union is happy to advise that through the Joint Planning Committee process, the Union and Air Canada/Air Canada Rouge have agreed to an Early Retirement Incentive Program. This program consists of pension improvements payable from the Air Canada Pension Plan as well as enhanced travel privileges to those eligible and granted an early retirement through this program. It is being offered to CUPE members as well as members of CALDA, IAM, and Unifor.

You are eligible for this program if you are under age 65 and participate in the Defined Benefit (DB) component of the pension plan and have more 20 years of qualifying service.

The Pension improvements payable from the plan are as follows:

  • Temporary Pension: Employees eligible to an unreduced pension as of August 1, 2021 are entitled to receive an additional temporary pension payment up to age 65. The temporary annual pension is equal to $400 for each year of allowable service accumulated in the Plan and will be payable in monthly installments until the first month you reach age 65.
  • Unreduced pension from 55/85: Employees not eligible to an unreduced pension because they have not yet attained age 55 and a total of 85 points (sum of age and qualifying service), will be eligible to an unreduced pension from the date they would have attained the age of 55 and a total of 85 points (without accumulation of service) instead of an unreduced pension payable from age 65.

To be eligible for either of these temporary improvements you must elect to retire on June 1, July 1, or August 1, 2021.

For full details on the Early Retirement Incentive Program including program eligibility, please check your Air Canada e-mail or CLICK HERE.

An in-depth FAQ including examples is also available on HR Connex under the COVID-19 Mitigation Banner or by CLICKING HERE.

Assuming you retire or terminate your employment from Air Canada under the early retirement program, your estimated pension benefits will be calculated for you to review. They will be posted in an eTool found on HR Connex by May 3, 2021 at the latest. You will also see your pension benefits under the current plan rules. This will allow you to compare between this temporary program and the current plan rules. Information on how to access the eTool will be provided as soon as it is available.

How to Apply
If you are interested in participating, you will need to apply through the eTool which will be posted on HR Connex on May 3, 2021 at the latest. You must submit your online application before the end of the day on May 14, 2021.

Shortly after May 14, 2021, an email will be sent to you to confirm if your application for the Program has been approved and you will be advised of next steps.

Once you have applied to this Program, your decision is final and irrevocable, unless the Company denies your application.

We would encourage all members to read all the available information provided before seeking further clarification. The Union is available for general guidance or clarification; however, we do not have access to your specific pension metrics and eligibility to provide individualised advice. For that information you should reach out to Air Canada. For any pension related questions, you may contact HR Connex Pension (Alight). For any non-pension related questions, you may contact the Air Canada Employee Care Team (ECT). They can both be reached at 1-833-847-3675.

We know that this phase of your career can be one in which decisions must be made.  They do not have to be difficult ones. We strongly encourage eligible members to review the program in detail before deciding. Imagining your new life post retirement can be an exciting time.  We believe that if you are going to take a good look at this offering that you do so armed with the knowledge and information that you require.   An opportunity like this may not come around again for some time but if you are going to ride off into that beautiful sunset, we recommend that you talk to family, friends and financial advisors to ensure that it is right for you.  EAP is also available as needed with services to assist you with these types of decisions.

On behalf of your entire executive, we thank you for your patience in this process.  Please reach out anytime.

In solidarity,

Your ACCEX