Release #: 20.11
May 13, 2020

ALPA Files Unfair Labour Practice against PAL Aerospace over Antiunion Behaviour

Proceeds with Effort to Represent PAL Aerospace Pilots

ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND—In an effort to protect the labour rights of Canadian pilots already facing furloughs, layoffs, and multiple safety concerns involving COVID-19, today the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) filed an unfair labour practice (ULP) complaint against PAL Aerospace Ltd., a subsidiary of Exchange Income Corporation. The filing alleges that PAL Aerospace management interfered with ALPA’s attempts—at the behest of PAL pilots—to organize the employee group, resulting in pilots revoking union membership cards.

Regardless of the intimidation tactics deployed by management, ALPA proceeded with filing membership cards on behalf of the 62 pilots at PAL Aerospace with the Canada Industrial Relations Board seeking certification to represent these pilots. ALPA’s actions follow PAL Aerospace management’s campaign of misinformation and interference designed to create a fear of unionizing within the pilot group.

“We are profoundly disappointed with management’s attempts to negatively influence a fair and professional union campaign, but it did not stop us from filing cards,” said Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA president. “At a time when airlines should be focused on the health and safety of their employees and customers, the PAL Aerospace management team is instead intimidating their pilots, which is why we brought an unfair labour practice action against the company.”

In a May 1 memo to PAL Aerospace pilots, Senior VP of Operations Eric Thoms misleadingly asserted to the pilots that:

  • If you “signed a card and changed your mind, you need to rescind it now because until you do, your original card counts.”
  • Having a Union in place will undoubtedly change your relationship with your employer.”
  • “The Union is selling you their services to represent you, and it is important to know how much those services will cost you.”
  • “If you do not want a union later on, it is a difficult, lengthy and expensive process to decertify, the union will likely fight you, and the employer is not allowed to be involved.”

Included within this missive was an allegation that PAL Aerospace management “heard troubling reports of persistent contact from individuals trying to persuade others to sign a Union card. We have been made aware of one incident where an individual approached one of our PAL Aerospace pilots and implied that a card would be signed on their behalf, if they were not going to sign.” When Mr. Thoms was questioned about this allegation and examples of such inappropriate behavior by ALPA’s counsel on May 7, the matter was referred to PAL Aerospace’s outside counsel who has been unable to produce any evidence of such allegations.

"In Canada, employees have rights that allow them to freely choose to join a union,” said Capt. Tim Perry, ALPA Canada president. “It is disappointing that those rights are being undermined today, especially during a time when employees everywhere are facing so many challenges.”

Pilot leaders at sister airlines PAL Airlines and Air Borealis have heard from pilot colleagues at PAL Aerospace that in addition to Mr. Thoms’s memo, frontline managers are telling pilots that if they unionize, senior pilots at the sister airlines could take their jobs—a proposition that couldn’t happen unless pilots at all three airlines agreed to a process for moving between sister companies and one that would require all three carriers have collective agreements in place (ALPA is currently negotiating a first collective agreement for PAL Airlines and will soon start first-time union negotiations for the Air Borealis pilots).

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 63,000 pilots at 34 airlines in Canada and the United States, including Canadian carriers Air Borealis, Air Georgian, Air Transat, Bearskin, Calm Air, Canadian North, First Air, Jazz Aviation, Kelowna Flightcraft, Morningstar Air Express, PAL Airlines, Sky Regional, Wasaya, WestJet, and WestJet Encore. Visit ALPA at or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or