Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Airport union seeks third party for labour negotiations

RICHMOND - Potential labour disruption could be a bird in the propellers of the Vancouver International Airport’s Olympic dream if an agreement cannot be reached with union workers.

After 14 days of bargaining, negotiations between the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Vancouver International Airport Authority have broken off, and the union has filed for a federal conciliation officer to assist the process.

“We felt that we were dealing with an employer that had a firm but inadequate mandate. Just based on their wage proposals and their lack of movement on issues that are important to the workers we felt that there was no point in further bargaining,” said Kay Sinclair, PSAC Regional Vice-President for B.C.

PSAC, whose members provide emergency response, runway maintenance, computer systems, and other key services at the airport, are bargaining for wage increases, flexible hours of work, and a viable pension plan for workers.

Negotiations began in March. On May 7 PSAC members refused a wage increase proposal tabled by the Airport Authority of 1.25 and 1.5 percent in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

“We’re not asking for anything different than the averages that are around,” said David Clark, President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees Local 20221 at the airport. “Without movement on the positions, there’s no way we can stomach what they offer.”

Clark said the members know the airport is doing well and refuse to accept the economic downturn as an excuse for not putting forward decent proposals.

In 2008, Vancouver International Airport saw a two-per-cent net increase in passengers and completed over one billion dollars in capital projects in 2009 including the Canada Line—the new SkyTrain line leading out to the airport—changes to customs setup, and an observation area for passengers complete with telescopes and interactive local information screens in time for the 2010 Olympics.

“You can’t cry poverty when you’re throwing money left, right and center,” said Clark.

PSAC members said they hope that with the assistance of a conciliation officer negotiations will be resolved smoothly without labour disruption, but said they will do what it takes to get an acceptable offer and that potential disruption could extend into the 2010 Olympics.

“I would hope that the employer would see [the Games] as a serious concern in the future and that they would want to negotiate a collective agreement in a way that would satisfy the workers,” said Sinclair.

Airport Authority officials refused to comment on the PSAC negotiations.

Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus