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

President’s Message – January 2009

PBS RESERVE IS COMING! –  Phase II And PBS Reserve Roll Out

January 2009 brings some exciting news for our crewmembers:  After working in conjunction with Nick Beveridge (PBS Chairperson), our PBS Joint Committee are ready to roll out the PBS RESERVE MODULE and the beginning of Phase II (the Waive Rule: 6/1, 4/14).

In February, our crewmembers will be able to bid Reserve for the March block month, and use the waive rule for their March bid.  A new PBS manual will be available online in February.  A “Reference Guide” for using these new features will be distributed to everyone.

During the bidding period in February, we will have members of the PBS “Joint Committee” visiting each base. The dates they will be visiting your base will be made available as soon as Air Canada has established their schedule for February.

At this time I would like to thank Nick and the PBS Committee for all of their hard work.

SCAB Issue

A few members have called me and asked for clarification on who exactly these “training specialists” are that are performing our bargaining unit work.  They are NOT Special Assignment Training Instructors.  These SCAB individuals are full management personnel hired specifically as training specialists.  Please do not confuse our members on Special Assignment with these SCABS.

VSP Arbitration (October 2008 Denials) Update

Continuation of the VSP October 2008 denials was heard on January 5, 2009.  I testified on behalf of the Union which concluded the testimony by the Union’s witnesses.  (Forensic accountant and pension expert testimony have previously been provided on behalf of the Union).  Our legal counsel has now begun the cross-examination phase of the Employer’s witnesses which will continue at the next hearing scheduled for February 4, 2009.

VSP Clawback Arbitration – January 21 & 22

This is an extremely important arbitration for our members.  If successful, we will see a wage increase of approximately 1-1.5% retro-active to 2007, and using a conservative estimate, the same percentage increase for 2008 and 2009.  The Union will be represented by the firm of Koskie Minsky (the same firm that represents us in the VSP arbitrations).  Expert testimony will be provided by the Union from the forensic accountant, who also testified in the October 2008 VSP Denials Arbitration, and who actually derived the formula to be used in the calculation of the wage increase.

Preparation For Negotiations In 2009

Every week I respond to numerous emails, phone calls, and letters from concerned members.  An issue raised time and time again is the belief that 2009 will be our most challenging negotiations ever.  Given that the Union administers a Collective Agreement costing approximately $400 million yearly, and Air Canada will attempt to reduce these costs significantly, the question is asked how will the Union approach these negotiations.

I will explain the strategy that I believe our Union needs to follow in order to achieve maximum success.


The Component has started preparations for the 2009 negotiations.  During this past summer and fall, negotiation meetings were held.  At these meetings, hundreds of bargaining resolutions were discussed and approved.  Thereafter, the Component Executive held numerous meetings where these issues were further deliberated and categorized.  We now need you, the members, to prioritize these issues.  The Component Executive will decide in the very near future whether the 2009 survey will be conducted electronically or by paper, and this survey will be used to set the priorities of the bargaining committee.


The corner stone of any successful negotiations is to ensure not only that the priorities of the membership are negotiated, but that the issues are properly understood.  After my election in 2007, some members told me that they did not completely understand the full impact of the choices they made when filling out the 2002 bargaining survey (PBS is the most often cited example).  The mistakes of the past cannot be repeated, the Union cannot produce a comprehensive bargaining survey without first properly explaining what the issues are.  You need to fully understand the issues in order to make an educated decision.  The direction for the upcoming negotiations must come from a membership that understands all of the issues.


The importance of the role of CUPE National cannot be dismissed.  To that end, I have contacted CUPE National’s President Paul Moist to discuss how the National Union will assist the Air Canada Component Executive during these difficult negotiations.  The issues addressed included:

  • A commitment for special access to CUPE National’s Research and Communication Department, both in the preparation stage and during the actual negotiations;
  • While we cooperate regularly with the Research Department, a Communication Specialist should be assigned ASAP in order to be familiar with our needs;
  • Cost sharing campaigns for the membership such as the survey, special education, ongoing campaign(s) and the ability to respond to any emergency situation while negotiating.

This list is not exhaustive.  2009 will be a very challenging year and the Air Canada membership will require all the help available to ensure successful negotiations.


Our Collective Agreement expires on June 30, 2009.  The Union gives “notice to bargain” 120 days prior to this date, under the Canada Labour Code, and 90 days prior in accordance with the Collective Agreement.  Traditionally, Employers do not respond until the expiration date of the Collective Agreement and negotiations do not begin prior to this unless both parties agree to do so.

We will not begin negotiations until we have received our mandate of priorities (survey) back from the membership, keeping in mind that any new Component Executive will have the right to administer this process as they see fit.

Rumours, Rumours

As always, I ask that instead of listening to hearsay, contact the source of accurate information.  E-Mail me, phone or drop by the Component Head Office for the facts on any issues concerning you.  I can be reached via e-mail at or by telephone at (416)798-3399 Ext 236.

In closing, I would dearly have liked to travel to the bases and meet you all, but as incumbent Component President, my first and foremost duty remains with the protection of the membership’s rights.  Major issues have kept me extremely busy, for example, the VSP arbitrations, pension crisis, SCAB labour issue, scheduled Teplitsky hearings, and the VSP wage increase arbitration.

My ongoing commitment to the job I was elected to do, in 2007, is my first priority.

In unity,


Lesley Swann

President, Air Canada Component of CUPE< /p>