A Canadian North B-737 on approach to Calgary, Alb.
At the end of 2016, the Canadian North pilots began negotiating with management for a new contract. Due to a downturn in work caused by a drop in oil prices that adversely affected the airline’s charter operations, the stage was set for a difficult negotiation.
But just four months later after a series of discussions, the pilots and management reached a tentative agreement in late March 2017. With a small pilot group spread throughout western Canada, the Master Executive Council (MEC) successfully leveraged new technologies to inform the pilots about the agreement by adding a live-streaming component to its road shows for pilots unable to attend in person. The online events were popular and effective in bringing the message to pilots wherever they found themselves.
In early April, 76 percent of the Canadian North pilots who cast ballots voted in favour of the agreement, resulting in the ratification of Collective Agreement 5. The five-year deal includes pay rate increases; wage increase triggers in years three, four, and five; and provides language clarifications and cleanup.
“We were very pleased with the results of the ballot and the job security this labour agreement provides,” said Capt. Bill Rodgers, the pilots’ MEC chairman, “and we believe this five-year deal will improve the company’s chances of securing future charter contracts.”
Over the course of the five years, the agreement includes 11.5 percent pay increases for B-737 first officers and 8 percent increase for Dash 8 first officers. Captains receive a modest increase during the first two years, followed by a prorated salary adjustment payment per year for the final three years. The deal also includes potential wage increases in each of the final three years of the agreement based on the company’s contracts with charter clients.
In May, Canadian North was notified that its code-share agreement with First Air would be terminated. Shortly thereafter, the company announced an expansion of its flight schedule to include more regularly scheduled flights in both the western and eastern Arctic. Canadian North currently services 16 destinations in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut via the southern gateways of Edmonton, Alb., and Ottawa, Ont.
In response to the devastating autumn hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean, Canadian North volunteered a B-737-200 combi to help with relief operation in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. “After the outpouring of assistance we saw in the wake of last year’s Fort McMurray fires, it was only natural that we step up and lend a hand to those in need—even those thousands of miles away,” said F/O Brenen Sorokan, the pilots’ MEC vice chairman. The relief effort was featured heavily on Canadian North’s social media accounts.
In an effort to enhance member communications, the MEC surveyed the pilots in late 2017 to assess the best ways to deliver time-sensitive information to the pilot group. The survey results clearly indicated that it was time for the MEC to create a Facebook page, which the MEC launched in December 2017 with the help of ALPA’s Communications Department.
The MEC began the new year conducting strategic planning to help focus its goals and objectives for 2018. “With a new contract and a positive outlook for the economy and the industry, the future appears bright for Canadian North pilots,” Rodgers said.