Air Canada pilots seek federal help to reach deal and avert strike

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Published June 3, 2024 at 2:52 pm

Air Canada pilots contract talks at Pearson in Mississauga.

Pilots at Air Canada, which operates more flights into and out of Pearson Airport in Mississauga than any other airline, are looking to change the tone of stalled contract negotiations in hopes of averting a strike down the road.

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents more than 5,000 pilots who fly planes for Canada’s largest carrier, said Sunday the pilots will request help from a federal conciliator with the intention of moving collective bargaining talks along.

The two sides have been talking for a year now with no agreement in sight, according to the ALPA. Included in those negotiations was a period of nearly six months of voluntary mediation.

In a post to social media on the weekend, the association said the pilots “will exit the mediation protocol agreement on June 15 and … file a notice of dispute requesting the minister of labour assign a federal conciliator to assist with negotiations.”

At the heart of their demands is a desire to have their wages be more in line with pilots south of the border in the U.S. Air Canada pilots are also seeking better working conditions.

Air Canada, meanwhile, said in a statement it’s committed to achieving a fair, negotiated agreement.

Last fall, the pilots demonstrated en masse at Pearson Airport as part of an information picket. The picket took place Sept. 29, the day their most-recent agreement expired.

The pilots said at the time that “in 2013, Air Canada pilots were paid three per cent less than United Airlines pilots. In 2024, it’s up to 92 per cent less. Air Canada is not keeping pace and Canadians are losing their pilots and routes.”

Last year, Air Canada pilots pulled out of their decade-long deal with the country’s flagship carrier in a move that was expected after the Air Canada Pilots Association had earlier merged with the Air Line Pilots Association.

Air Canada pilots voted overwhelmingly to join the ALPA, the world’s largest pilot union, which represents some 40 pilot groups around the globe.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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