days until our Collective Agreement expires, we are preparing, we are united and we will make change.

President's Message – August 2008

Division IX

Thanks to everyone involved in the rallies and lobbying efforts over the last few weeks.  We have been able to create a lot of public attention and have turned Air Canada’s cuts and closures into a public concern.  Because the Minister of Labour denied Air Canada‘s request for a waiver of the Division IX requirements under the Canada Labour Code, we were able to meet with the employer this month in Calgary.  However, a week of very difficult discussions failed to get any agreement on an acceptable adjustment program for you. 

Our next step is the dispute resolution process under Division IX. The Minister of Labour has now appointed Arbitrator Brian Keller to assist the parties. The mediation/arbitration process will commence on Saturday, August 30. Arbitrator Keller’s mandate under Division IX is limited to the “Adjustment Plan” for the “Redundant Employees”. He cannot change the number of projected lay offs, the lay off date, nor the base closures.  

CUPE fully intends to fight these unnecessary base closures, and punitive lay offs through actions separate and distinct from this arbitration.

Under Division IX, the Arbitrator has up to four weeks to render his decision from the date of the Minister’s appointment.  Therefore we expect a bottom line decision by September 15, with reasons to follow.

The Union has retained Ray Larkin as counsel. Ray is a prominent Halifax labour lawyer and was also counsel acting for DEVCO employees in the only two previous Division IX decisions.

Air Canada has committed that it will not implement any procedures to layoff until this decision is rendered.

Rallies across Canada

The across Canada rallies on July 28 were a huge success – many members, their families, other unions and politicians came out in a show of solidarity against Air Canada’s decision to close Halifax and Winnipeg bases and to layoff 300 members in Vancouver. The Component Officers were at the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver rallies in support. Media coverage has also been a great success and the collective message has remained loud and clear: these base closures and layoffs will negatively impact Air Canada’s ability to maintain reliable services to these communities.

Ongoing Political Campaign

Phase Two of the political campaign to save the bases and stop the layoffs is currently being planned. Expect to hear from the Component and your Local Presidents very soon as to what our next steps will be and how you can continue to participate. Your sustained participation in these efforts is crucial to a successful outcome. CUPE National Staff Representatives as well as Research and Communications have been a tremendously helpful resource and they will continue lobbying efforts on our behalf.

Membership Unity

Nothing brings a group together more than a common goal. Any issue that affects the membership as a whole, whether directly or indirectly motivates us to act. It is this action that brings us together and strengthens our resolve and unity.  Unity strengthens our position in front of the Employer and sends a very strong message.

Since Air Canada announced its plans to close Halifax and Winnipeg bases and layoff 300 members in Vancouver, I have witnessed this unity build. From the letter writing campaign to the Minister of Labour, the many emails to my office offering support, the distribution of information to passengers, to the rallies across Canada, together we are creating the strength in numbers required to send the one message that truly counts – Air Canada, we are unified and together we are fighting back!

This momentum must continue into the next phase of our political campaign and on into 2009 bargaining if we are to succeed. You are the key to continued success. Our brothers and sisters in Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver need to lean on this strength to get through these difficult times. 

Thank you for your continued support!

Labour Day History

In Canada, the Labour Day holiday which falls on the first Monday in September, is celebrated all over the world (most countries celebrate May Day on May 01). It is a direct result of efforts by the labour union movement and dates back in Canada to 1872.

The celebration of Labour Day has its origins in the “eight hour day” movement which advocates eight hours work, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest.

The labour union movement of the past secured benefits for us today that some may take for granted – safe work places, medical care, unemployment insurance, fair hours, union wages etc. Let us not forget the heroes that were our forefathers, who fought so hard to make Unions and Labour Day a reality.

Celebrate in the spirit of the past and affirm today the dignity and honour of all fellow workers everywhere.

Component Committee Appointments

Solidarity Committee Chair – Heather Tilroe, Calgary

Electronic Bulletins / Keep Informed

We have approximately 4700 members signed on to receive our electronic communications. Now more than ever, it is vital that we reach all our members through this preferred efficient and effective method. I urge those who haven’t yet, to sign up now by going to and clicking on the “Join Our Email List” link on the left. 

As always, we continue to provide a small amount of paper communications available to you through your Local Union Office and Communications Centres.

In unity,


Lesley Swann

President, Air Canada Component of CUPE

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