CAW Surprised at Timing of Federal Mediator Appointment

June 4, 2009, 2:32 PM EST


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The CAW is expressing surprise at the timing of the federal government's appointment of a mediator in the Air Canada negotiations, in light of the progress that's being made in the talks. The federal government announced this morning that it has appointed former Ontario judge James Farley to help resolve the pension issues between the Air Canada and its five unions.

The CAW has been in negotiations with Air Canada for the last two weeks in an effort to reach a new collective agreement to replace the one that expired on May 31.  Leslie Dias, president of CAW Local 2002, said that good progress has been made in the talks and there remain just a few key issues to resolve, the major one being funding to the pension plan.

The two sides met late into the night last night with discussions picking up again this morning.

"We recognize the major financial challenges Air Canada is facing as a result of the current financial crisis and other past business decisions," said Peggy Nash, assistant to the CAW president. "As the major stakeholders in the airline, workers understand well the necessity of keeping the airline out of bankruptcy and ensuring its long-term survival and the union has been working hard to come to an agreement with the company."

"It's important to recognize though that funding relief for the pension plan will not alone solve the airline's financial troubles," Nash said.

The CAW has been pushing the federal government to deal with the broader economic context of the airline industry beyond the pension issue - including the impact of deregulation and privatization and urging the government to take an equity stake in the national carrier.

"We hope the appointment of former judge James Farley will be a positive step in resolving the concerns around the funding of the pension plan," said Dias. "We expect that his expertise on the airline industry and of the priority unions place on preserving the pension plan will serve as an asset in working out this issue in a fair and timely manner."
CAW Local 2002 represents 4,500 Air Canada workers across the country in customer service in airport terminals and reservation offices.

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