Air Canada flight attendants vote for labor deal

Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:09pm EDT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Flight attendants at Air Canada have voted in favor of a labor agreement with Canada's biggest airline, a union spokeswoman said on Sunday, a crucial endorsement the cash-strapped carrier needs to avoid possible bankruptcy.

Sixty-three percent of the flight attendants who voted backed the 21-month agreement, Katherine Thompson, president of Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), told Reuters.

Debt-laden Air Canada has said that lenders it is talking to require labor peace before they will consider loans. The carrier recently renegotiated five labor contracts and CUPE is the third union to ratify its tentative agreement.

Results from votes by the Air Canada Pilots' Association and the International Association of Machinists and Aeropace Workers (IAMAW) are expected this week.

IAMAW members initially voted against their tentative agreement but after some clarifications with Air Canada are voting for a second time.

CUPE's Thompson said the ratification vote result did not mean that flight attendants, of which there are more than 6,800 at Air Canada, were happy with the labor deal that freezes their wages and benefits for the next 21 months.

"It doesn't reflect their contribution to Air Canada. What 63 percent is, is a testament to the fact that they believe in the future of Air Canada," she said.

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

<p>Air Canada passengers wait at the ticket purchase counter at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, June 17, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>