May 20, 2020
Mr. Calin Rovinescu
President & CEO
P.O. Box #14000, Station Airport
Dear Mr. Rovinescu,
On behalf of our membership, comprised of Air Canada Mainline and Air Canada Rouge Cabin Crew, we are reaching out to you in your capacity as President & CEO. As you are undoubtedly aware, the Union sent a letter to Air Canada regarding the CEWS process for the go forward. This was done after consultation with our Executive Board when the Prime Minister made the announcement that the government would be looking at ways to work with Air Canada during this time of unprecedented hardship.
In this letter, we offered the following: ‘The Air Canada Component of CUPE will continue to support Air Canada’s efforts to secure government relief from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. On May 16, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau again recognized the effect of the pandemic on Air Canada and promised that the Government of Canada would see how “we can help even more”.’ We are surprised that over the two days since sending this letter, we have not received a call to assist in moving this forward.
We are equally surprised to hear that members opting to take a Special Leave under the mitigation program will not be eligible for the CERB due to the code that the employer is choosing to enter on Records of Employment. The CERB eligibility criteria is very clear: “The benefit is available to workers who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19.” A mitigation is intended to assist a company in preventing layoffs; one would think there would be greater interest in this mitigation option if members could opt for the Special Leave and have their record of employment reflect the true meaning of the leave, as it is clearly related to a shortage of work due to COVID-19, and be eligible to collect valuable government benefits. This is a shock to our members and stands out, particularly because they are aware of the COVID-19 leave that is available and allows members to collect these benefits.
An option that was raised by the Union weeks ago but which has not yet been implemented to our great surprise is Work Sharing, which would allow our members to work a reduced block and claim EI benefits. This is a program that would not only mitigate layoffs but keep employees connected to and engaged with the Company and poised for growth and consistency. We are aware that the Federal Government has changed the submission date to 10 days prior to the requested start date (from 30 days prior).
If this had been looked into and applied for when it was initially suggested by the Union, it would have been an integral and highly beneficial mitigation option to provide to our members.
There must be some creativity in finding ways to ensure our members are not thrown on the streets with nothing. As the Union tasked with representing our members and working with the employer to do so, we now send this on to you to be reviewed and offer our assistance in any efforts to be heard by the Government and come to a solution for our vast membership. The Union will do all it can to ensure the Government follows through on its commitment to provide assistance, and we need to ensure that our employer is doing the same by putting in the necessary applications and following up with the needs of its employees.
A response would be appreciated in an expedited manner. As you know, the mitigation process is open at this time, and it would not do Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or our Shareholders any favours if our members choose not to participate due to a lack of options that benefit them.
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE
cc: Air Canada Component Membership
Air Canada Component Executive
Kevin Tyrrell, Component Staff Rep – CUPE National
Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Sr. VP, People, Culture and Communications – Air Canada
Jonathan Turner, Vice-President IFS – Air Canada & President Rouge Operations – Air Canada Rouge
Michael Abbott, Managing Director Labour Relations – Air Canada
Giuseppe Morello, Director Labour Relations – Air Canada