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

President’s Message – September 2008

Yesterday, the Component Officers, Nick Beveridge, Katherine Thompson and myself attended Air Canada’s quarterly financial “state of the business” meeting held at Montreal headquarters’.  Montie Brewer addresses all five Air Canada Unions at these meetings.

At this meeting yesterday, I presented Montie Brewer with CUPE’s own “base viability study” and read to him the following statement:

Mr. Brewer,

It is CUPE’s position that Air Canada’s decision to close the Halifax and Winnipeg bases was not a sound business decision, but one made with a very shortsighted outlook.  Halifax and Winnipeg are places where loyal employees of long standing are based.  These employees have worked diligently for decades to preserve the integrity of Air Canada’s operations.  

Canada is a geographically vast country with difficult and unpredictable weather systems.  The bases of Winnipeg and Halifax are uniquely situated in this geography to ensure that Air Canada’s operations are conducted with the minimum of inconvenience to Air Canada’s customers. 

Halifax and Winnipeg are vibrant Canadian communities that generate substantial natural business for Air Canada.  These bases have contributed greatly to Air Canada’s ability to provide air carrier service to the nation.

CUPE presumes that the decision to close Halifax and Winnipeg was not taken by the Company in a cavalier or unconsidered fashion.  It cannot have been the desire of Air Canada to cause so much hardship to so many loyal employees without some reason or rhyme.  Yet no actual rationale has been provided despite repeated requests for the factual basis for this awful decision.  

For this reason, CUPE has conducted an analysis of the viability of the Halifax and Winnipeg bases utilizing the facts as known to the Union.  I present you with this study in the hopes that faced with the facts you will consider reversing this decision.  CUPE’s study actually shows that closing these bases will not provide any economies, and in actuality will be a net cost to the Company.

CUPE respectfully requests that you reconsider your decision to close Halifax and Winnipeg as crewing bases.  This will be a concrete gesture of consideration for your workers, and of your wisdom as the leader of the flag carrier of Canada.

After reading the statement, I strongly requested that he respond personally to all our members explaining the reason’s for Air Canada’s decision to close Halifax and Winnipeg bases.

The meeting abruptly ended at that point because Mr. Brewer was very reluctant to enter into any dialogue surrounding the base closures and the content of the base viability study.

I would like to remind everyone that the Arbitrator had no jurisdiction under Division IX to reverse Air Canada’s decision to close Halifax and Winnipeg bases.

For these reasons, we are still fighting to maintain our bases through public awareness, media and pressure on Air Canada.

To review the Union’s base viability study, please log on to the Component website at

In unity,


Lesley Swann

President, Air Canada Component of CUPE