CUPE’s airline workers will fight back against unpaid work

CUPE’s Airline Division Component Presidents are meeting this week in Vancouver to discuss how to end the widespread industry use of unpaid labour. Flight attendants regularly perform hours of unpaid work every time they report for duty – a practice that must stop.

“If you’re a firefighter, a bank teller, an electrician, or almost any other profession in Canada, when you show up for work and perform work duties, you’re on the clock and you’re compensated for your time. For flight attendants in Canada, that simply isn’t the case,” said Wesley Lesosky, President of the Airline Division. “Flight attendants deserve to be paid for hours worked, and we’re going to step up this fight to make sure they are.”

Although there are variations at each airline, generally speaking, most flight attendants in Canada are at work, in uniform, performing work-related duties long before they start – and long after they stop – getting paid. It is estimated that between 20 and 50 per cent of a Canadian flight attendant’s time at work is unpaid. Unpaid work may include things like prepping aircraft, boarding and deplaning passengers, gate duties, and safety-related duties.

The division presidents have been meeting this week to put plans in place to present a strong and united front across CUPE’s ten different airline groups, and raise public awareness and mobilize members to end this unfair and exploitive practice.

“This is a totally unacceptable industry practice that only exists because nobody knows about it,” said Rena Kisfalvi, Secretary-Treasurer of the Division. “That is about to change.”

CUPE’s Airline Division represents approximately 18,500 flight attendants working at ten different airlines in Canada.

In Solidarity,

Wesley Lesosky
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE

Grievance Update – CHQ-19-54 – Abuse of Management Rights (PBS and Language Assignment)

The Union filed a grievance in 2019 as a result of Air Canada’s failure to respect the intent of PBS with respect to seniority rights in relation to those with languages. (Click HERE to see grievance form)

The grievance proceeded to Arbitration on September 28, 2022 before Arbitrator Flaherty.  We are happy to advise you that on November 7, 2022, Arbitrator Flaherty released her award which allowed the grievance.   No remedy was provided through her award and she remitted the matter of remedy back to the parties.  An excerpt from her award is included below.  (Click HERE to see the full award)

“The grievance is allowed. For the reasons provided, I find that determining route language requirements is within the Company’s management rights. There is no basis to conclude that it has exercised these management rights unreasonably. However, in assigning up to 40% of positions to route language-qualified crew, the Company must respect those employees’ seniority rights. Rather than imposing language coverage awards on the most junior qualified crew member as required by article B4.02.02.04 of the collective agreement, the PBS imposes these awards on block holders, who tend to be the more senior employees. The Company has violated the collective agreement by failing to properly consider seniority in assigning language coverage awards.

In the circumstances, it is appropriate to remit the issue of remedy to the parties. I remain seized in the event the parties are unable to resolve the remedial issues. The fact that it may be difficult to find a software solution should not prevent the parties from exploring this and other solutions, nor does not absolve the Company from its obligation to comply with the collective agreement.”

In Solidarity,

Wesley Lesosky
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE

Update – CHQ-22-13 – In-charge (SD) Classification – Application of Wage Scale

As a follow up to the bulletin we issued on February 16, 2022, regarding this grievance (click HERE to view the bulletin), the Union would like to advise you that it has appealed the grievance to the last step of the grievance process, which is Arbitration.  The Union has been actively lobbying for a settlement on an ongoing basis (at Level 2 and at mediation). Despite this fact, we were not able to reach a resolution.

The Union believes the company is in violation of Article 5.06.01 by not recognizing our Rouge colleagues with 5 years of completed service, who have flown through to mainline, for the purposes of SD pay.  They should be paid Level II SD pay.

5.06.01 Where a Flight Attendant moves into the In-Charge classification, s/he will be placed in LEVEL I of the Purser wage scale, as applicable with the following exception:

EXCEPTION: Flight Attendants with more than five (5) years of completed service will be placed in Level II.

Once a date has been confirmed for arbitration, we will communicate it to you.

In Solidarity,

Wesley Lesosky
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – Update on Grievances

As stated in our last bulletin issued on June 13, 2022, the Union filed policy grievances at both Mainline (CHQ-22-48) and Rouge (CHQ-rouge-22-16) regarding cost of living increases. Click HERE to view the bulletin.

For the past 25 years, inflation has been close to 2 percent per year. Wage increases in the 10-year agreement are set at 2% annually. The steady and low rate of inflation changed suddenly in 2021: inflation increased rapidly beyond 2 percent beginning in early 2021. In 2022, the rate of inflation reached a near 40 year high, with inflation above 8%.  Like many Canadians, Cabin Personnel have been distressed. Lower-income workers, including more junior Cabin Personnel, are particularly impacted by price hikes caused by inflation because they spend a larger proportion of their income on essential high increase items like food and gas.

Our mainline grievance was denied at level 2 and has now been scheduled for mediation on November 17, 2022 with our Chief Arbitrator/Mediator William Kaplan.

Our Rouge grievance was denied at level 2 and at the Quarterly grievance review and has now been appealed to arbitration.

We will continue to provide updates as we move through the grievance process.

In Solidarity,

Wesley Lesosky
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE

CHQ-22-79 – Special Authorization Process for the Submission of Prescription Claims

The Union has filed a policy grievance (click HERE to view) on the Company’s imposition of the Special Authorization process for members who were submitting prescription claims through Claim Secure.  We believe this process creates a burden on the membership.  Members find themselves in a difficult position when they go to their pharmacy and are told the drug they require is not covered. This is a drug that was prescribed by their personal physician and is deemed to be required for their specific condition. After they are aware of this denial, members must then secure a second appointment with their physician to have them fill out the special authorization form.  They must pay out of pocket again for this paperwork to be completed.  Following this laborious process, they are advised that their claim is denied a second time. In our view this is not acceptable and is not aligned with the Collective Agreement language is Article 22 which states:

22.02 SUPPLEMENTAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN II: The Company will pay 100% of the Air Canada Supplementary Health Insurance Plan II.

We are looking for examples and scenarios to support our grievance and have created a survey to collect the information. Please CLICK HERE to access the survey:

We hope to hear from you and truly appreciate your assistance with this very important matter. Your participation and attention to this can go a long way to help us remedy the situation and ensure that the Collective Agreement language is respected.

In Solidarity,

Wesley Lesosky
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE