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February 21, 2003
Air Transat Cockpit Crewmembers File for Conciliation, Deploy $2 Million Union Grant to Support Bargaining
MONTREAL --- The pilots and flight engineers of Air Transat, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), today filed papers with Canada’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services requesting conciliation in their 18-month effort to negotiate new contract terms with airline management.
"We are hopeful that the services of a conciliator will help to bring this collective-bargaining process to a satisfactory conclusion," said Capt. Martin Gauthier, chair of the Air Transat cockpit crewmembers' unit of ALPA. "Despite the challenges confronting the airline industry today, which we fully recognize, this airline is quite capable of meeting our demands for fair and equitable treatment," he said.
"Our professionals have worked hard to uphold the carrier's status as Canada's leading charter operation and to help our parent company have a profitable year," Gauthier said. "As employees vested in this airline's success, we want to see continued prosperity for the enterprise. Our modest expectation to be treated more comparably to our peers in this industry and our desire to work with management for the airline's continued competitive strength and stability are not mutually exclusive goals," he added.
Using a $2 million grant from the union, the Air Transat cockpit crewmembers' leaders have begun setting up strike centers in Montreal and Toronto, and are putting in place an enhanced superstructure for communicating with union members, their families, customers, and the media.
"We don't believe a strike should be necessary if management is as motivated as we are to resolve differences with negotiated terms," Gauthier said. "But we will be nonetheless very well prepared to stand up for fairness."
Under the Canada Labour Code, the Minister of Labour must appoint a conciliator within 15 days of the union's request, and conciliation then lasts 14 days. The parties may mutually agree to an extension of up to 60 days, and may reach subsequent agreements to extend conciliation beyond 60 days.
If the parties have not reached agreement on all contract provisions at the end of conciliation, a 21-day cooling-off period leading to a strike deadline ensues. If the parties still have not agreed to terms at that deadline, the union may strike, providing that it received authorization via a vote of its members and gave management at least 72 hours' notice of the impending work stoppage.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world's oldest and largest union of professional airline cockpit crewmembers. It represents 66,000 cockpit crewmembers at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. The roughly 320 cockpit crewmembers of Air Transat -- based in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver -- have been members of the union since spring 1999.
ALPA CONTACT: David Berkley, (703) 481-4456