Air Canada union aims to force contract on Rouge, Sky

Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:14pm EDT
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TORONTO, April 25 (Reuters) - Air Canada's largest union has asked the country's labor board to treat the carrier, its low-cost Rouge subsidiary and an airline that provides its regional service as a single employer, forcing all three to honor Air Canada's contract with the union.

The International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents some 8,800 Air Canada workers, said it had petitioned the Canada Industrial Relations Board for the designation.

Air Canada launched Rouge last summer to provide high-volume leisure flights to the Caribbean, United States and other international markets.

Rouge is currently using Air Canada line maintenance, baggage handlers and ground crew who are union members. But that arrangement will end in 2016 when the contract expires. After that, the union wants to prevent Air Canada from hiring a new Rouge crew outside of the union.

Last year, Air Canada transferred 15 Embraer 175 aircraft to Sky Regional, its regional carrier, the union said. As a result, non-unionized Sky employees were now doing work on the aircraft that was previously handled by Air Canada's unionized staff, the union's application said.

If the union's application is successful, Sky Regional's current non-unionized workforce would have to become unionized.

Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesman, declined to comment, saying the airline had not seen the applications yet. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Bernard Orr)