Early Agreement at Air Canada Makes Progress in Difficult Times, CAW President says



    TORONTO, Jan. 15 /CNW/ - CAW President Ken Lewenza calls the early
tentative agreement between the Canadian Auto Workers union and Air Canada a
strategic and necessary move by the union that yielded positive results for
its members. "We defeated the company's demands for yet more concessions, and
we made modest progress for our members despite the enormous uncertainty
facing our members and the company," Lewenza said.
    Years of economic turbulence in the airline industry, topped by the
side-effects of the current global financial meltdown, made the bargaining
extremely challenging, Lewenza said. However, it was clear that economic
conditions facing the airline industry are going to get worse, not better, in
the next few months, he added, and that made it sensible for the union to try
to reach an early settlement. The tentative agreement was reached four months
before the expiry of the existing contract.
    "Our union was able to resist major concession demands from the company,"
Lewenza said, which included a proposed two-tier wage system, outsourcing of
bargaining unit work, and the company's demand to abandon the defined benefit
pension plan.
    The new tentative agreement includes improvements to workplace scheduling
systems and established an agreement that smoothes the transition for members
affected by the creation of Aeroplan as a stand-alone company. The tentative
settlement also includes a one-time $1,000 payment for full time employees
($500 for part time employees), and modest base wage increases of 1.5 per cent
and 1.75 per cent in the second and third years.
    "Getting in early with these negotiations helped us reach the best deal
possible for our members," said Leslie Dias, President of CAW Local 2002. "Any
delay in negotiations would have left us in a much more vulnerable position as
the economy continues to deteriorate, and airline travel continues to decline.
With so much at stake in these negotiations we couldn't afford to take that
risk."
    "Defending our past gains, and making continuing progress, is the
hallmark of trade unionism," Dias said. "With all the uncertainty facing the
airline industry, and this company in particular, this is a contract we can be
proud of."
    Details of the contract will be made available to the public after the
members ratify the agreement. CAW members will vote on the contract at
ratification meetings set to be held across the country over the next two
weeks.
    This agreement covers over 5,000 Air Canada and Aeroplan customer service
and sales employees represented by CAW Local 2002. The current collective
agreement expires in May 2009.





For further information:

For further information: CAW Communications, Shannon Devine, (416)
302-1699; John McClyment, (416) 315-3202; or Angelo DiCaro, (416) 606-6311

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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