April 8, 2020
For immediate release
Toronto, ON- The airline industry has been heavily impacted by the pandemic with countries closing borders and placing restrictions on movement. This has translated into reduction of flights and massive furloughs of air transportation workers throughout the world, and the impact has been just as severe in Canada. As the largest union in the air transportation industry in Canada, we have seen an unprecedented number of our members in this industry being put out of work across Canada.
In an effort to assist our members at this incredibly difficult time, the IAMAW has engaged in conversations with major Canadian air carriers to explore possibilities through the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. Where possible, we have also advocated for employers to modify operations for production of medical equipment and/or personal protective equipment (PPE).
We are glad to announce that as a result of ongoing discussions, the IAMAW and Air Canada have reached an arrangement that would undoubtedly benefit our members. Air Canada has confirmed it intends to partake in CEWS, subject to the program being adopted into law substantially as announced, and bring back employees on lay-off or off-duty status (ODS) to its payroll at 75% of their regular wage rate, although there is no work for them to perform. The arrangement would allow members who are financially better served by applying for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to make that choice, while maintaining their ODS status. In effect, members would be able to choose between remaining in employment and receiving wages under the federal CEWS program or to remain on off-duty status without pay, and apply for the CERB.
“This piece was an important part of the arrangement for the union, as we recognize that some members fare better under the wage subsidy program, and others through CERB. For the IAMAW, this was the crux of the arrangement, and we are confident we are serving the interests of all our members who are Air Canada employees.” said the President Directing General Chairperson of the air transportation District Lodge 140, Fred Hospes.
As part of this arrangement, members would see the continuation of their healthcare benefits, the cessation of employee wage claw backs during this period, and the cessation of employee uniform deductionLastly, members would be able to make pension contributions during this period as a percentage of their new wage.
“I believe this arrangement would be the best possible option under the circumstances, and I’m glad we were able to come to an arrangement quickly with Air Canada,” said Stan Pickthall, General Vice President of Canada.
Fred Hospes went on to say, “we hope that as we reach the end of such an arrangement, the industry will begin to show signs of recovery and operations will gradually resume normal levels, until then we needed to know our members are taken care of.”
If adopted, this arrangement would be applicable to all IAMAW members at Air Canada who have been placed on Off-Duty Status, laid off or furloughed since March 15, 2020 and will cease on June 6, 2020 or earlier once an employee is recalled back to work.
The IAM is the union representing the largest number of airport workers across Canada.
For more information contact:
President Directing General Chairperson District 140