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

President’s Message – March 2008

Union/Management Headquarters Meetings (UMHQ)

In accordance with Article 21 of the Collective Agreement, the Union and the Employer meet on a quarterly basis in order to discuss and resolve issues affecting you, the membership. Article 21.01.01 outlines the general principles:

The two parties recognize that it is in their mutual interest to promote a climate of labour relations, which will, to the highest degree possible, meet the needs of the employees and of the company”.

With this general principle in mind, and in keeping with the spirit and intent of this clause, your Union meets with the Company always with the desire to resolve issues expeditiously and in the best interests of our members. Unfortunately, the Employer is not as committed to these meetings as we would have hoped they would be, as indicated by the length of time some issues are on the agenda. Below are some examples of long term outstanding issues:

LHR – Pick up times

Your Union continues to put pressure on the Company to revert back to 2 1/2 hours prior to departure.

Records/Pay Claims

The Company pays outstanding claims at an unacceptably slow pace.

Voluntary Draft List

The Company does not agree that the process be “voluntary”. Why?

Vacation 2008/2009

The Union requested a larger allotment in July, August, September and December due to potential VSP departures. The Company agreed in principle, but has so far not provided the requested data to verify.

Tape Review Process

The Union has the right to review crew scheduling tapes as part of the grievance process and also to review the backlog. The Company continues to stall, thereby preventing our Central Site Rep from addressing and eliminating the backlog.

Reserve Flying Problems

Hotel accommodation issues have arisen when crewmembers on reserve have arrived at the hotel only to find that there were no rooms booked for them. The Company agreed this was unacceptable, and committed to a resolve of this issue. As it is still happening, the Union requested a copy of the directive to Crew Scheduling that the Company said they wrote. It was denied as they cited “we cannot copy the Union on internal communications”.

WSIB – New Return to Work Process

The Company acknowledges the fact that the new “Functional Abilities Form” cannot be filled out by an injured worker in 24 hours, yet is still uncooperative with its full response to this issue.

Positioning for Training – YYC, YWG and YHZ crew travel for training to YVR, YYZ, and YUL

Crew cannot be bumped off a flight. The Union has requested that the Company copy us on the bulletin to Agents in this regard. The Company has so far not complied with this request.


It was brought to the Union’s attention that Deadheading crews had a different priority when deadheading to home base. The Company agreed this should not be the case yet still have not fulfilled their commitment of advising Agents, Crew Schedulers and issuing a bulletin to the members.

Shepell FGI

The Union has opposed this initiative right from the beginning. Now the Company informs us that it is mandatory to receive a call from Shepell and/or Management after 3 days on book off. We are actively opposing this new procedure and the Union has demanded a cease and desist. If asked by Sheppell if you want a “3 day call” just say “no.” If they say that a manager will call you, you needn’t respond. If management calls you on the phone to speak with you, we take the position that it is a phone meeting and you will be paid accordingly. Grievances will be filed on your behalf.

These are only a few examples of the lack of co-operation by the Employer. A lot of these issues are relatively straight forward and could easily be resolved quickly and efficiently, if the Company were so inclined.   Also, most of the issues are non Collective Agreement issues, and as such rely heavily on the principles of goodwill, faith, co-operation and genuine mutual best interests, to the highest degree possible.

Your Union continues to be committed to the process and to abide by the general principles of UMHQ meetings. The Employer however, continues to drag its feet wherever it can and uses the process in a protracted, inefficient and unproductive way. This is not conducive to a climate of positive and effective labour relations; in fact it is the complete opposite.

I am therefore demanding publicly that Air Canada, the Employer, live up to it’s agreed upon role at UMHQ meetings and come to the table with intent and fulfill its obligations in a timely fashion.


Some of you may have been wondering about bargaining next year and what a “strike mandate” means.  A strike mandate is the authorization of the membership for the negotiating committee to threaten to, or actually, withdraw the services of the membership from the Employer.  

The strike mandate is given by the membership in a vote that the Union takes to gauge how much support there is from the membership for the strike option.  Such a vote is typically conducted in the same way as a vote on the ratification of the Collective Agreement. You will be sent a ballot by your Union asking if you are willing to “give your Union Executive the right to initiate strike action against the Company”, in the event the Company refuses to negotiate a reasonable Collective Agreement.     If a majority of those who vote are willing to give the Union Executive the right to initiate a strike that is what constitutes a strike mandate.  Giving this “mandate” does not mean you will be going on strike.  In fact, the higher the mandate percentage, the more seriously the negotiating committee will appear in the eyes of the Employer, and the less likelihood of a strike. A weak strike mandate (80% or less) gives the Employer the impression that they might “break” the Union and impose its “final offer” on the membership.

Giving your Union a strong strike mandate, if it is requested of you, means the Union will have a powerful weapon to use in bargaining with the Company.   Your Union certainly will not choose the strike option until it feels it has absolutely no other choice; to do otherwise would be irresponsible.  In a nutshell, the threat of a strike and /or an actual strike, are necessary bargaining tools for the Union to pressure the Employer into agreeing to a reasonable Collective Agreement.  To reiterate, no Union wants to go on strike, they should only do so if there is no other way to force the Employer to agree to reasonable terms.  

Policy Grievance CHQ-08-07

A Policy grievance has recently been filed in
regards to missing supplies (i.e. pillows and blankets) on LOU 18 and LOU 22 – long-range flights).  If, after advising STOC prior to departure, you still do not receive the missing supplies, please contact and advise your local Union office.

Solidarity Committee

The Component Executive recently struck a new Component ad hoc committee namely, the “Solidarity Committee”.  This committee’s mandate will run from now until commencement of bargaining in 2009.  The committee’s main function will be to promote strategies for the unification and solidarity of the membership. This may take the form of selecting strikes to support in order to train the membership in picket discipline, build inter union solidarity, and develop future strike captains.

It is also the committee’s intention to develop a web page to include pre-bargaining / campaign / solidarity initiatives to further promote strength and unity.

Once we have finalized a plan of action for the committee, they will be in touch with you, the membership, to engage your participation and support for our 2009 bargaining effort.

Component Committee Appointments

Sean McGuire, Chairperson, Solidarity Committee

Meredith Palmer, Member, WIP


Once again, Component communiqués to the membership are now mainly electronic.  It is therefore vital that all our members sign up for electronic bulletins.  As we get closer to and during actual bargaining, electronic communications will be the most effective means of contacting our members with the latest updates.  We urge you all to sign up now.  To receive Union bulletins electronically, go to our website and click on Join Our Email List.  The Union is also actively investigating ways of communicating with our respected membership using new media.

In unity,

Lesley Swann,

President, Air Canada Component of CUPE