TORONTO, Feb. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - The layoffs and contracting out announced by United Airlines at airports across Canada today are unacceptable and need to be reversed, Unifor National President Jerry Dias says.
"This is a devastating blow to an experienced workforce that has a proven record of performing their duties to the highest standards," Dias said.
Unifor represents 94 customer service representatives at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. They, along with 85 employees at Vancouver International Airport and 58 at the Calgary International Airport (members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers), are to be laid off in the coming months as the US airline contracts out the work.
Under the company plan, the Unifor members in Toronto are to be off the job by June 1.
Dias blamed inadequate laws protecting the rights of workers in federally regulated sectors for the damage being done to more than 200 families across the country by this decision.
"There are little or no statutory protections when it comes to successor rights," Dias said "Companies can hide behind laws that allow them to strip workers of their right to be represented, since the new employer will not be bound by the collective agreement."
Dias has requested an immediate meeting between himself and top United officials to discuss the matter.
"This affects all airport workers, and Unifor will protect the rights of our members and all workers in the federal and provincial sectors," Dias said.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 300,000 workers, including almost 12,000 in the airline sector. Unifor was formed Labour Day weekend when the Canadian Autoworkers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.
Alaska Air Group Inc. has reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract with its 700 aircraft technicians, the carrier and the union said Thursday.
Even if the leaders of United and Continental agree to merge their airlines, the hard work of combining two work forces with different unions and conflicting interests will remain.
The history of the airline industry is littered with cases in which peace in the boardroom was followed by rancor among co-workers at 30,000 feet.