Pilot Group News

Air Canada Pilots Send Notice to Bargain to Management

he Air Canada Master Executive Council (MEC) announced on June 13 that it officially provided a notice to bargain to Air Canada management. The union is looking forward to scheduling its first bargaining meeting with the company in the coming weeks.

“Air Canada pilots are fully invested in our company, customers, and our country. We’re proud of the profession we’ve chosen and take very seriously our jobs transporting our passengers safely to their destinations,” said F/O Charlene Hudy (Air Canada), the pilot group’s MEC chair. “To remain competitive in the global economy, Air Canada must address career progression and job security for its pilots, as well as the growing wage gap between the United States and Canada.”

The MEC Negotiating Committee expects management to recognize the pilots’ professionalism and contributions to the growing success of the airline. The committee is ready to work with management for a better contract, ultimately attracting future aviators and helping the airline achieve consistent and reliable service for its customers.

“Air Canada pilots haven’t been in a meaningful negotiating position since 2014, and in these negotiations, we’re striving for a historic contract for our pilots to address this growing disparity between the United States and Canada,” explained Hudy.

WestJet and Swoop Pilots Ratify Agreement with Major Compensation and Quality-Of-Life Improvements

WestJet and Swoop pilots announced on July 9 that they ratified a new four-year employment contract with industry-leading pay increases, strong job-security protections, and major scheduling and quality-of-life improvements.

Of the 95 percent of eligible pilots who cast ballots, 87 percent voted in favour of the agreement, which goes a long way toward recognizing the value and expertise the pilots bring to their airline and will help solve many of WestJet’s pilot attraction and retention issues.

“Since negotiations began, we’ve been clear that our experienced and dedicated pilots deserve a contract that delivers on the goals of better job security, enhanced compensation, and more flexible schedules to allow for a better work-life balance,” said Capt. Bernard Lewall, the WestJet pilots’ Master Executive Council chair. “We believe this contract, which is consistent with collective agreements other ALPA-represented pilot groups are signing with their employers, does just that.

“Having this agreement in place will help solve many of the airline’s labour issues and bring more stability to our operations,” continued Lewall. “I look forward to seeing our airline grow and become a career destination for pilots once again, which will benefit everyone from our company to our passengers and fellow employees.”

The contract went into effect July 1 with retroactive pay to January 1 and will expire Dec. 31, 2026.

Keewatin Air Pilots Join ALPA as 42nd Pilot Group

The pilots of Keewatin Air became the Association’s newest members on June 7 after the Canada Industrial Relations Board announced that it had certified the results of the pilot group’s May 12 card filing, which grants representation rights to ALPA.

“The Keewatin Air pilots are showing what we all know—that we’re stronger together,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president. “Today the world’s largest pilot union grew even larger and stronger, and we look forward to working with the Keewatin Air pilots to help them achieve their first collective agreement.”

Keewatin Air is owned by the Exchange Income Corporation (EIC), making the pilots the seventh EIC-owned group represented by the Association.

“Keewatin Air pilots not only bring in another EIC company, increasing solidarity and networking opportunities within those pilot groups, but they also bring another airline serving the far north, sharing their expertise in the area with similar pilot groups and gaining an immediate support group for the unique issues facing such travel,” said Capt. Tim Perry, ALPA Canada president.

“Keewatin Air pilots will immediately have the support and experience of ALPA’s pilots, professional negotiators, economists, and the entire ALPA staff. We look forward to further advancing the aviation profession in Canada together,” Perry added.

Keewatin Air, which began operations in 1971 and was the first airline in Canada to have a permanent base in Nunavut, is headquartered in Winnipeg, Man., and operates a fleet of King Airs, Cessna Citations, and Pilatus PC-12s.

CIRB Certifies ALPA as Lynx Air Bargaining Representative

ALPA formally welcomed Lynx Air as the Association’s 41st pilot group on June 3. The pilots filed cards with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) on May 4, and the CIRB officially certified the results of the filing, granting representation rights to ALPA.

“We’re thrilled to have the pilots of Lynx Air join our union,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president. “We all speak stronger with one voice, and the Lynx Air pilots know that we’re all stronger together. We look forward to supporting the pilots as they work toward their first collective bargaining agreement.”

Lynx Air is an ultra-low-cost carrier based in Calgary, Alb., with destinations in Canada and the United States. The carrier began operations in April 2022 after being rebranded from Enerjet.

“As a fairly new endeavor, now is the perfect time for Lynx Air pilots to join ALPA,” said Capt. Tim Perry, ALPA Canada president. “As their airline grows and plans for the future, ALPA and the Lynx Air pilots stand ready to support those plans. The first step, of course, is a collective bargaining agreement that recognizes the pilots’ important role in successfully growing the company and makes Lynx Air a destination for pilots as well as passengers.”

Lynx Air employs approximately 80 pilots flying B-737 MAX 8 aircraft, with seven in the current fleet and more on order.

Perimeter and Bearskin Pilots Reach Tentative Agreement

Perimeter Aviation and Bearskin Airlines pilots announced on May 25 that they reached a tentative agreement with Perimeter Aviation, a subsidiary of the Exchange Income Corporation. The tentative 5-year agreement contains many improvements, including increased compensation, stronger job-security protections, and improved working conditions.

“For more than three years, Perimeter and Bearskin pilots have demonstrated their unity and commitment to attaining a collective agreement that reflects the contributions we bring to the success of our airline and the communities we serve,” said Capt. Riley Box, the Perimeter pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) chair.

“Perimeter and Bearskin pilots have been determined to bring our wages in line with our industry peers and significantly enhance our work rules. This tentative agreement does just that and is a fair and equitable contract that works for pilots and assists our company with pilot retention,” added Capt. Robert Maxwell, the Bearskin pilots’ MEC chair.

Perimeter pilots began negotiations with management in 2020. Since then, the pilots have continued to ensure the airline’s success despite the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past several years, the number of ALPA-represented pilot groups from EIC-owned airline properties has more than doubled, with the pilots making up nearly 10 percent of ALPA’s Canadian membership.

FedEx Pilot Leaders Approve Tentative Agreement

The FedEx Express Master Executive Council (MEC) voted on June 11 to approve a tentative contract agreement reached on May 30 with management. The next step is a membership ratification ballot, which opened on July 5 and closes on July 24.

The new agreement would provide major pension improvements with alternative pension options, significant hourly pay rate increases, an amendable period recovery payment, and other improvements to the pilots’ quality of life. The agreement includes a 30 percent pay increase, a 30 percent increase to the pilots’ legacy pension, and a fully developed and equally valuable company-funded market-based cash balance pension to provide a durable replacement for their legacy pension. To date, it’s the largest investment in a pilot contract, on a per capita basis, and substantially raises the bar on pilot retirement.

“After careful consideration and thorough debate, our union leaders recognized the value this agreement will bring to our pilots and their families,” said chair Capt. Chris Norman, the pilots’ MEC chair. “Now we shift our focus to ensuring our pilots have the time and resources needed to make an informed decision.”

To educate the pilots on the agreement in advance of the vote, the MEC Negotiating Committee has shared the full contract language, published detailed information about the agreement online, and has been hosting a series of road shows that began on June 20.

“We took a membership-driven approach to these negotiations, with polling and direct feedback throughout the process. We negotiated an industry-leading contract and achieved improvements contract-wide. We look forward to presenting the agreement to our pilots for consideration,” Norman remarked. “The improvements to our retirement stand out. Not only did we accomplish major improvements to the existing pension benefit—improvements that we sought and management bitterly resisted in past negotiations—but we also crafted a new pension plan that sheds the negative funding aspects of our current plan. The new plan is completely sustainable and ensures that the costs of the plan charged to the company match the value that goes to the pilots. It’s a tremendous accomplishment.”

Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president, after receiving a detailed briefing of the tentative agreement, applauded the work of the FedEx pilots for reaching a deal that now goes to the pilots for a ratification vote.

“The FedEx pilots successfully fought an intransigent management and secured this deal that, if ratified, will raise the bar on retirement for all pilots. This tentative agreement has the highest value achieved among major carriers in the last 20 years, and we’ll strive to build on this pattern in future pilot contracts,” Ambrosi said.

Contract negotiations began in May 2021, the contract became amendable in November 2021, and the parties entered mediation with the National Mediation Board in November 2022. If ratified, the new contract will go into effect in August 2023 and would become amendable in 2028.

ATI Pilots Receive $2 Million Grant for Negotiations

After a special vote by ALPA’s Executive Board on May 22, Air Transport International (ATI) pilots received a $2 million grant from the union’s Major Contingency Fund (MCF). The funds will support the nearly 550 ATI pilots in a critical negotiating phase after nearly three years of direct contract negotiations with management.

“We’re ready to execute an aggressive plan that will use both traditional and nontraditional tactics, as permitted under the law, to achieve our goal of securing a market-rate contract,” said Capt. Mike Sterling, the pilots’ Master Executive Council chair. “The approval of this grant should put both management and parent company ATSG on notice that the weight of the world’s largest pilot union unequivocally supports our efforts toward a collective bargaining agreement that will bring our compensation, work rules, and benefits in line with our fellow pilots across the industry.”

In response to increased profits and a drive to retain employees, other airlines have recently offered substantial raises, boosting the industry standard for pilot compensation.

The pilots and management mutually sought assistance from the National Mediation Board to move negotiation talks forward in March 2023, and the first scheduled mediated bargaining session took place on June 5.

Amerijet Pilots Achieve Tentative Agreement on New Contract

Amerijet International pilots announced on May 15 that they reached a tentative agreement with management following three years of negotiations. The new, three-year agreement includes pay raises upwards of 45 percent, as well as significant improvements to schedules, work rules, and retirement security.

“I’m thrilled that the years of hard work and dedication our Negotiating Committee has given can finally be shared with our pilots to vote on,” said Capt. Tim Millar, the pilot group’s Master Executive Council (MEC) chair. “The days of our pilots working under an incredibly subpar and outdated contract will soon be over. It’s my sincere hope that the improvements in pay, quality of life, retirement, and insurance will enable the company to recruit and retain pilots to sustain our continued growth into new markets.”

The Amerijet MEC unanimously approved sending the tentative agreement to the pilots for ratification and opened three weeks of ratification voting on June 2. If ratified, the agreement would take effect on June 26.

“My bedrock principle in all our work with Amerijet has always been ‘collaboration before competition,’ and this was the foundation of our Negotiating Committee’s approach in addressing the daunting list of issues that are associated with a fully rewritten contract,” said Millar. “This approach frequently surprised both sides of the table as to how many of the frustrations with our current, outdated collective bargaining agreement were shared by both the pilots and management.”

Delta and Endeavor MECs Hold Joint Session

In mid-May, the Delta and Endeavor Air Master Executive Councils (MECs) held two joint sessions while both leadership teams were in Tempe, Ariz., for regularly scheduled meetings. The MECs participated in joint strategic planning, passed a resolution of mutual support, and established a joint working group to explore solutions to the failed fee-for-departure model and to explore recapturing regional flying under mainline scope. The working group will report its findings and recommendations to their respective MECs this fall.

The two MECs are committed to continued collaboration for effective solutions that benefit both pilot groups.

This article was originally published in the June 2023 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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