Over the past week we have had several members reach out with questions about the CEWS program. They advised us that they had heard that other airlines or bargaining units within Air Canada/Air Canada Rouge were being granted an extension to the CEWS program, and many of them were wondering if we could have the same outcome. To reiterate the message from our previous bulletins, the Company was not interested in extending the CEWS for the entire membership. In addition to this and despite our many attempts, this was not something the Company wanted to explore for the whole membership.
Instead we were offered, at the same time as mitigations, an extension to the CEWS program for a small percentage of the membership. The condition for this was that it would not be bid on, would not follow seniority and we had to sign off on a maximum of 600 people on CEWS for June and July only. The Company wanted our members essentially on standby.
The Company is not interested in following the CEWS program like other airlines are, such as Air Transat, WestJet and Sunwing and further the reality is that we already have a mechanism in our collective agreement for extra staffing, it is called Reserve. The Company wanted a third classification of workers earning less money and your Union unanimously disagreed with this. Our position was that these members be kept on reserve and earn full salary. As a result of our refusal to extend the CEWS to that small percentage requested by Air Canada, 249 more members were not laid off and the full mitigation list was actioned allowing more members to be employed, and more members were awarded their chosen mitigation. For every mitigation, there is a job saved. We also compared year-over-year reserve numbers for June and have seen a significantly higher percentage of members on reserve in June 2020. This clearly demonstrates that more of our members were kept on reserve in June, at full pay. This was a further reduction in the amount of layoffs.
Our decision to hold the line on not introducing a third classification of lower paid members essentially on reserve but getting paid less was needed . We are confident that in addition to the increase in reserve numbers that we will see more members returned to work in the short-term. Our goal is always to protect and defend the rights of the membership as a whole and we will continue to do so with every member on side.
If the Company would have used the CEWS program as intended, we would not see thousands of our members on lay off status. We have expressed our concerns with the CEWS program not being afforded to our members to the Company, CUPE National, Canadian Government Officials, and the media.
For further clarity, the CEWS program is still active for all members on payroll. CEWS is a wage subsidy that the employer receives. This means that for everyone currently active, the Company is claiming a portion of your wage back to the government. You are being paid 100% of what you are entitled to, but the company is getting a 75% subsidy on those wages under CEWS. Previously we saw it bid on and offered to all those that would have otherwise been laid off or mitigated, that is the current difference.
There are also countless rumours going around that IAM and Unifor have all there members on CEWS. This is not correct, they have CEWS as a reserve model, and in limited numbers, we have been in consultation with all the Unionized groups on this. ACPA has also not had the CEWS program extended.
We again want to reiterate, the Union works for you, we fight for you and advocate for you. We have been doing this the entire time. There was no other reason to deny CEWS other than it was not a benefit to pay people less than what they would make being fully active, it violated seniority and it was limited in duration and prohibited members from being paid 100% of their salary to sit reserve. In essence, we enforced and followed the Collective Agreement.