Air Canada’s largest union is eager to resume contract talks, requesting a new mediator in a renewed bid to reach a deal while urging members to be patient.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers intends to return to bargaining and has no plans to issue a 72-hour strike notice to coincide with the expiry of a cooling-off period March 15, said Chuck Atkinson, president of IAMAW district lodge 140.
“We’ve asked the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to assist us with bargaining by assigning a mediator to help us,” he said.
The former mediator was Louise Otis, a retired judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal.
Mr. Atkinson added in an interview Tuesday that he’s concerned about “misinformation” being posted by some employees on Facebook.
“The attention span of a lot of people is very tight instead of taking the time to read through things and understand them. The short and sweet – and the rumour mill – tends to control a lot of what’s going on,” he said.
In an internal memo to union members, Mr. Atkinson said it’s important for employees to do their homework when examining labour issues. Last week, IAMAW members rejected a tentative agreement reached Feb. 10, with concerns lingering over wages, pension reform, scheduling of night shifts and mandatory overtime.
“The frequent misuse of the social media has amplified this discontent by circulating misinformation and speculation about the ‘truth.’ The ‘truth’ isn’t found on a Facebook site,” he wrote. “It’s found by attending information/union meetings and speaking to those who, for the last nine months, attended face-to-face meetings with the employer: Your bargaining representatives.”
The 8,600-member IAMAW represents mechanics, baggage handlers, cargo agents, aircraft cleaners and electricians.
Separately, Ms. Otis resigned Monday as co-mediator in labour talks between management and the Air Canada Pilots Association.
“We are concerned about the threat posed by labour disruptions to passengers, trade and the economy,” federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said in a statement. “That is why the government provided an extended mediation period to the parties. And the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service remain available to both parties to help them reach a negotiated agreement.”
Captain Rick Allen, Air Canada’s senior director of flight operations, said in a memo to pilots last week that he has been generally impressed by the decorum displayed by ACPA members during contract talks. But he said he’s noticed a small number of incidents such as unauthorized stickers showing up at aircraft entrances or inside the washrooms of planes.
Members of ACPA’s bargaining team said in a newsletter on the weekend that they are “committed to getting a negotiated deal,” but cautioned “we need to see more evidence that the company shares this view.”