Arbitrator Rules in Bitter Dispute at Air Canada

“To say that we’re disappointed in the arbitrator’s award would be an understatement,” said District 140 President Chuck Atkinson in response to a ruling by a Canadian arbitrator in the long-running contract dispute between Air Canada and IAM District 140.

The arbitrator, who was appointed after the Canadian government passed legislation in March to bar a strike by IAM members at Air Canada, chose the carrier’s final offer to conclude bargaining on behalf of more than 8,600 Air Canada workers. The decision includes a five-year term which is in effect until March 31, 2016.

“The way the legislation was written by federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, left the arbitrator with little or no elbow room to come to any other decision than the one he made,” explained Atkinson. “Despite this decision, the IAM will continue with its court challenge to the legislation.”

The arbitrator’s ruling maintains the defined benefit pension for members at Air Canada but failed to fully resolve the issue of pension relief going forward.

Under terms of the new contract, current employees will remain part of the company’s existing defined-benefit plans while new hires will join the IAM-sponsored multi-employer defined-benefit plan.

The IAM will now establish a schedule for information meetings for the membership to be held across the country within the next few days.

The IAM is the largest union at Air Canada representing line maintenance mechanics, auto mechanics, millwrights, electricians, inspectors, technical writers, planners, instructors, baggage and cargo handlers, aircraft cleaners, cabin groomers and weight and balance agents.