Air Canada Workers Vote to Strike if Necessary, Backing Up Call for a Fair Contract

May 20, 2011, 11:00 AM EST

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CAW members at Air Canada have voted 98.25 per cent in favour of going on strike if necessary, strengthening demands at the bargaining table for a fair and equitable new collective agreement. Votes were cast by more than 80 per cent of the total membership. The strike deadline is set for Monday, June 13 at 11:59 p.m. (midnight).

"With this strong strike vote, our members have clearly demonstrated that they've had enough of being taken for granted by Air Canada," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "What we're looking for at the bargaining table is a fair and equitable settlement, not the many concessions and the destruction of our pension plan like Air Canada is demanding. This company cannot lecture workers about their role in making the airline more efficient while dolling out major bonuses to corporate executives, including extremely rich retirement packages."

The strike votes were held in a series of meetings right across the country from May 13-19, with results tallied this morning.

Lewenza said that the desire is not to cause interruptions for the travelling public, but negotiations require flexibility from both parties and so far this has not been the case, with Air Canada showing little will to arrive at a new agreement.

"I believe this company has underestimated the growing frustration of our members as they've worked hard to deliver major productivity improvements over the last ten years while seeing their wages stagnate and co-workers pushed out the door," said Jamie Ross, president of CAW Local 2002, representing Air Canada workers. "Air Canada can well afford to compensate its workers fairly and continue the pension plan."

Negotiations with Air Canada resume in Toronto on Tuesday, May 24 with a federally appointed conciliator.

The union has also been organizing targeted demonstrations in major airport terminals, drawing hundreds of Air Canada workers and supporters. Rallies have so far been held in the Montreal Trudeau Airport on April 21, the Calgary International Airport on April 28, the Air Canada shareholders meeting in Montreal on May 5, with other rallies to come. 

CAW Local 2002 represents 3,800 members at Air Canada, who work in customer service and sales in major airports and call centres. The collective agreement expired on February 28.

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