Air Canada attendants get labor deal they rejected

Mon Nov 7, 2011 2:48pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - A federal arbitrator has imposed a labor contract on Air Canada's flight attendants that they voted down in October.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the airline's 6,800 flight attendants, called the ruling "profoundly disappointing."

"Awarding flight attendants an agreement they rejected a month ago does not in any way address serious workplace issues, and flight attendants are rightfully disappointed and angry," Paul Moist, CUPW's national president, said in a release.

The union said it would review the decision and consult with members on its next steps.

"Air Canada is pleased with this final and binding decision to implement the terms of the second tentative agreement that was reached with CUPE's democratically elected leadership in September," Chief Operating Officer Duncan Dee said in the airline's release.

The flight attendants came to the brink of a strike in October after rejecting a second tentative settlement agreed between Air Canada and union representatives.

But the federal government effectively prevented a strike by taking the unusual step of asking the Canadian Industrial Relations Board, a quasi-judicial tribunal that administers and interprets parts of the Labour Code, to intervene in the dispute on the basis that a strike would pose a safety risk.

The union and the airline then agreed to let an arbitrator rule on the drawn-out contract dispute.

Major issues included working conditions, pensions for new hires and the airline's planned low-cost carrier.   Continued...

<p>A man checks into an Air Canada flight at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto, September 20, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>