* Arbitrators set for disputes with pilots, machinists
* Unions are challenging constitutionality of federal law
TORONTO, May 2 (Reuters) - The Canadian government said on Wednesday it has appointed two arbitrators in a bid to resolve drawn-out labor contract disputes between Air Canada and its pilots and machinists unions.
The country’s No. 1 airline has seen its profits hurt over the past year by rising fuel costs and a steady stream of feuds with its unions.
Air Canada was able to avoid strikes by both the pilots’ and machinists’ unions earlier this year after the government passed a law that prevented the two unions from striking and Air Canada from locking union members out. The legislation also sent the contract disputes to binding arbitration.
Both unions have challenged the law as unconstitutional, but have agreed to participate in the binding arbitration process.
The government has appointed Douglas Stanley as arbitrator in the dispute between Air Canada and the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA). It named Michel Picher as arbitrator to help resolve the dispute between Air Canada and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).
IAMAW, which represents 8,600 mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents, is the airline’s largest union. A tentative deal between the two sides was rejected by workers in February.