Your Component Executive is providing an update on the CHQ-22-48 COLA hearing that took place on May 31st in Toronto before Arbitrator Eli Gedalof. One element of this hearing and the submissions were about the respective interpretation of the parties. The Company felt the criteria in LOU 35 to enact this clause was not met, and we did.
LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING 35: COLA AND “ME TOO”
L35.01 In conjunction with the effective date of the annualized uplifts agreed to by the parties and set out in Article 5 of the collective agreement, wage increases will be subject to further negotiations if:
i. other bargaining agents (ACPA, ALPA, CAW, IAMAW, or CALDA) have negotiated higher percentage wage uplifts effective before the expiry of the CUPE collective agreement;
ii. the consumer price index of the previous year exceeds the wage increases by more than one (1.0%) percent for any of the three (3) calendar years referenced in Article 5 of the collective agreement.
Note: In the event other bargaining units achieve a higher percentage increase as a result of demonstrable productivity or work rule changes, such will be taken into consideration should further negotiation on wages be required.
At the hearing, further, the employer argued that negotiations did take place and that was all that was required by the parties. The employer claimed that the Union did not meaningfully engage with Air Canada in a timely, reasonable manner and that led to the breakdown of negotiations. Let us be very clear about what happened from our perspective. We were there to negotiate cost of living increases so that our members can put food on the table and manage to get by financially. Air Canada offered an extension to the current contract with NO increases for the next two years or minimal increases over the extended period WITH concessions. We did not feel that this was bargaining cost of living increases which was what LOU 35 intended. We were not there to provide the laundry list of concessions that the employer was seeking. That was not the intent, and it was a difficult process. This coupled with the executive compensation that we are all aware of was completely unacceptable. We were left with no choice but to follow the grievance process and seek resolution that way. Among other things our legal counsel argued that there can be no collective agreement right without a remedy. One lesson for first year law students is “no right without a remedy” – meaning that a right protects you only when you have a remedy for its violation. This principle is old enough to have a Latin version: Ubi jus ibi remedium.
We will provide an update on the final decision of the arbitrator as soon as it becomes available. We are sincerely grateful to the members who came to the hearing. It was a pleasure to meet in person and to sit together to listen to the facts and arguments. Thanks to all who came to the hearing and to those of you who were not able to attend, we understand how important this issue is to you. We feel that we were well represented and now await the outcome.