President's Message -January 2008

Flight AC190

A very special acknowledgement goes out to the heroic flight attendants of Flight 190 on January 9, 2008.  Toronto based crew members Shirine Eltaher, Christopher Weaver and Christine Boisvert, as well as off-duty flight attendant Denise Wills, went above and beyond their call of duty in spite of suffering injuries themselves.   On behalf of all Air Canada flight attendants, I commend you for your exemplary actions and acts of bravery under extreme circumstances.  Congratulations, we are so proud of you! 

These types of incidents emphasize that the primary purpose of our profession is safety.

LHR Layover Pick up Times and Transportation

Since July 2007, your Union has been exerting pressure on the Company to revert back to 2.5 hours before departure as the pick up time for London layovers.  We finally succeeded, and as of the January 2008 block month, pick up time will be 2.5 hours prior to departure.  The Company has also confirmed that separate buses will be used for crew staying at the airport hotel.

Vacation Bidding 2008-2009

Changes and improvements to vacation bidding this year include the flexibility to specify the number of consecutive days within a date range, with an option to auto reduce to a specified minimum number of days.  Minimum days will not be less than 7.

Example #1 – Auto reduce:  F/A bids 10 days between July 01–July 31 with auto reduce.  The system will first look for a 10-day period within the date range.  If one is not found, it will auto reduce in increments of 1 day to a minimum of 7.

Example #2:  Auto reduce with a minimum:  F/A bids 14 days between July 01–July 31 with auto reduce, minimum 10 days.  The system will first look for a 14-day period within the date range, then auto reduce in increments of 1 but will not continue below 10-days minimum.

Bargaining Proposals for 2009

Your Local Union offices are preparing to hold special membership meetings to enable you to bring forward your bargaining proposals.  I strongly urge you to attend these meetings or send in your proposals.  This is your time to convey whatever changes you would most like to see in the next Collective Agreement.  This initial preparation sets the stage for the next step, the bargaining survey.  Take the time to participate and put forth what YOU want.   I cannot reiterate enough the importance of getting involved in this initial and critical process.

Protection of Collective Agreement Rights

Your Union continues to file grievances when the Collective Agreement is violated.  In fact, in 2007 alone, we filed over 600 grievances.  Your Union presents level 2 and meal grievances to the Company and then, if they are not settled, they are advanced to Arbitrator Teplitsky.  Your Union also presents grievances to arbitrators other than Mr. Teplitsky. Approximately, 90% of block rule and meal grievances are settled before they reach arbitration and your Union has a favourable outcome at arbitration roughly half the time.  Rest assured, whenever there is basis to file a grievance over a contract violation; your Union will continue to do so.

When your Union believes the company is interfering with your Union or violating the Canada Labour Code it files a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board.  A recent complaint to the Board was made regarding the reduction in payment to your Union’s Health and Safety reps.

Your Union hires experts and uses CUPE staff in many dealings with the Company and to advise and assist with internal processes such as administration of your Union and interpretation of the by laws.  For example, your Union uses lawyers and CUPE professionals to argue cases at arbitration; has hired a forensic accountant to address the issue of PBS savings; and uses CUPE research staff to assist with bargaining surveys and to provide information and advice.

Voluntary Separation Package (VSP) ArbitrationCHQ-06-64

Arbitrator Teplitsky has ruled that the VSP grievance be moved to full arbitration. 21 of our members were denied the VSP by the Company under the premise that the total amount of VSPs offered cannot exceed 250 in any of the given years. The Union argues that the interpretation of “at least” 250 obligates the Company to reasonably offer more than 250 should the need arise. 

Also in Schedule 2 – Letter of Understanding outlining the VSP Program, it states “A governing principle of this program is that the maximum number of VSPs will be granted”.

The VSP arbitration will be held before Arbitrator Robert Herman on April 2, 2008.  The Union is disappointed that we could not secure an earlier date, but unfortunately this was the Arbitrator’s earliest availability.

Shepell FGI

At the last Union Management (UMHQ) meeting, the Union reiterated our members’ concerns to the Company regarding the book-off/on procedures via Shepell-FGI.  I will outline the Union’s position on frequently asked questions by the Shepell representative.  If asked for:

Type of illness: You are not obligated to answer this other than personal illness or injury while on duty.

Specific medical information: You are not obligated to answer this.  The Union suggests that you refrain from answering this question.

Your phone number: You are not obligated to give this information.

Your date of birth:  You do not have to give this information.

B787 Gallery Design

On January 21, 2008, the B787 Galley Committee met with the Boeing galley engineer team at Boeing’s facilities in Seattle.  They met with a view to work on the initial galley design structure.  CUPE has sent two committee representatives along, one from Health and Safety and the other from the New Aircraft Committee.  The B787 is scheduled to join the Air Canada fleet in 2010.

Crewmembers asked to clean Flight Deck

The Union would like to address the December issue of “Go”, specifically where it states that FAs are to be reminded to clear catering items from the flight deck after landing.  Please be advised that you are under no obligation whatsoever to clean the flight deck.  This paragraph of a Company publication accomplishes nothing, other than to insult the profession of our members. 

Component WSIB Committee Chair Retirement

Eddie Cheung, WSIB Chair for the past 30 years, is retiring at the end of January 2008.  On behalf of all flight attendants we wish Eddie all the best for a happy and healthy retirement.  Eddie’s contribution to our Union has been nothing short of exceptional and we greatly appreciate all his ef
forts. He and his expertise will be dearly missed.  Eddie’s replacement will be WSIB rep Jean-Jacques Israel, who will step up and assume the position of Chairperson.

Component Committee Appointments

Solidarity Committee

Sean McGuire        (YYZ):  Chairperson

WIP Board of Trustees

Claire Renaud        (YYC): Chairperson

Gurveen Garewal   (YVR): Trustee

Heather Thomson  (YYZ): Trustee

WSIB Committee

Jean-Jacques Israel (YVR):  Chairperson

Bernard Lecerf         (YVR):  WSIB Rep

In closing, 2008 will be a pivotal year for us as we concentrate our efforts on strengthening our unity in preparation for bargaining.  The Company will be watching closely to see how determined the membership is and what level of support it provides to the Union’s leadership.  We can be successful in 2009 but only if we present a strong united front to the Employer.

In unity,

 

Lesley Swann

President, Air Canada Component of CUPE