Release #: PVL 19.01
September 26, 2019

PAL Pilots File Complaint Citing Unfair Labor Practices

Charges company has unilaterally changed work rules and requirements as retaliation for joining a union

St. John’s, Newfoundland—Earlier today, the pilots of PAL Airlines, as represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), filed a complaint with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) charging that, starting in June 2019 when ALPA became the bargaining agent for the pilot group, the company’s management team has rebuffed calls to develop a productive labour-management relationship and has instead unilaterally altered the existing work rules without consulting the pilots’ union in violation of the Canada Labour Code.

In June 2019, ALPA was certified as the bargaining agent for the pilots employed by PAL Airlines, which is owned by Exchange Income Corporation (EIC). Shortly thereafter, ALPA served a notice to bargain, which under the Canada Labour Code imposes a statutory freeze preventing management from unilaterally changing work rules. Rather than consulting and working with the local St. John’s union representatives, management has secretly made work rule changes without consultation or notice to ALPA or the pilots. Management’s known actions, to date, include:

  • Altering the pilots’ vacation system: The local management altered the vacation system whereby a pilot who worked additional hours in a vacation month would have vacation days returned for future use. Management’s imposed change returns unused vacation days in a manner that cannot be used and are forfeited at the end of the year. This new policy prevents pilots from using rightfully earned vacation time.
  • Changing the pilots’ sick leave system: The applicable rules provided that a management pilot may request a sick note after three days of consecutive leave. The local management imposed a change allowing them to request such notes whenever they deemed it necessary, such as after one day of illness. This policy deters pilots from calling in sick.
  • Making the use of an iPad mandatory: The local management opted to make voluntary use of iPads in the cockpit a mandatory requirement for employment. In order to force the purchase of iPads (through the company), the local management removed all paper operating manuals and navigational aids from the aircraft without proper notice to the pilots. This policy forces pilots to operate aircraft in a new manner with different technology, which must be sourced at the pilot’s own expense.
  • Ignoring the recognition of past service and seniority for transfers between affiliated companies: The local management has stripped a pilot of his past service credit and seniority when he transferred between airline divisions. The rules permit employees to transfer divisions without such losses. When questioned about this change, management’s response was attributed to the pilots joining a union. This policy change has the net effect of drastically reducing a pilot’s pay and retirement contributions.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents more than 63,000 pilots at 35 airlines in the United States and Canada, including the nearly 100 pilots at PAL Airlines. Visit or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.