Calm Air

Calm Air Pilots
Getting ready for their first flight together as Calm Air flightcrew members—father and son, Capt. Shawn Harman, right, and F/O Nicholas Harman.

In January 2018, the Calm Air pilots’ Negotiating Committee began meetings with management to start the process of negotiating the pilot group’s new contract. In February—with a strong collective agreement already in place from previous negotiations—the group quickly reached a tentative agreement after only two negotiating sessions.

“The five-year agreement provides gains in a number of areas,” said Capt. Brendan Potter, the pilot group’s Master Executive Council (MEC) chair. “We appreciate the resources, guidance, and advice received from ALPA’s professional staff and pilot negotiators. Without their time and input, we wouldn’t have achieved the collective agreement that we have today.”

Along with taking advantage of the vast resources provided by ALPA, the Negotiating Committee, consisting of Potter and Capts. Jeff Jacobs, Corey Strachan, and Trevor Wilcox, also enlisted the aid of two representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service who helped facilitate the negotiations.

In February, the MEC unanimously endorsed sending the tentative agreement to the pilot group for ratification. In April, the Negotiating Committee and MEC members held well-attended road shows in Thompson and Winnipeg, Man., to educate the pilots about the merits of the agreement before the ratification vote opened. With 76.2 percent of eligible pilots participating in the vote, 87 percent voted in support of the tentative agreement.

Major gains in the new contract include an increase in the accumulation of sick time, an increase in pension contributions for pilots with 10-plus years of service, changes to the vacation bidding system to make it more fair to junior pilots as well as an increase in the vacation weeks available to bid, and increases in annual pay tied to inflation.

Not long after the contract was ratified, the company approached the pilot leadership for help implementing an automated pay system, which the Negotiating Committee addressed in a letter of understanding reached last year that covers and clarifies past pay practices and greatly simplifies the pilots’ pay system.

Like many smaller regional airlines, Calm Air has been facing increased pilot attrition. “The current job market is providing a lot of opportunities,” said Potter. “While our attrition is not as high as some other operators, it’s still a challenge. However, we’ve been fortunate to be able to recruit strong candidates as volunteers in various MEC roles. We have new first officer reps in both the Winnipeg and Thompson bases who attended ALPA’s Leadership Training Conference in 2018 and came away with a great deal of useful information that will help our pilots.”

As 2019 begins, the pilots of Calm Air are busy implementing their newly negotiated collective agreement and are looking forward to the year ahead.

Calm Air provides scheduled passenger and regular cargo service to more than 20 communities in Canada’s northern and central provinces, some of the remotest locations on the globe. The airline is the only direct-service air carrier from Manitoba’s northern cities to Winnipeg. It also provides scheduled service to communities in Nunavut as far north as the Arctic Circle.