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Air Canada talks break down after GTAA meddling

TORONTO, April 1, 2015 /CNW/ - The Greater Toronto Airport Authority's (GTAA) campaign to convert middle-class jobs to low-wage work has led to a halt in talks between Air Canada and customer sales and service agents.

"The GTAA has derailed national negotiations and threatened airport operations from coast to coast," said Jerry Dias, Unifor's National President.

The GTAA is demanding that all work involving servicing passengers requiring wheelchair/special assistance be outsourced at Pearson International Airport. This demand would result in a 50% pay cut for approximately 130 workers.

"We made significant progress at the bargaining table but that ended when it became clear that the GTAA is blocking a solution and Air Canada is uninterested in resolving this issue," said Cheryl Robinson, Unifor Local 2002 President. "When combined with other threats to our job security, there was no point in continuing negotiations until this issue gets resolved."

The GTAA has been in the media spotlight lately after Unifor accused it of "contract flipping"—the legal but unethical practice of switching service providers every few years to minimize costs. Every time a new contract begins, employees must re-apply for their job and face uncertainty and usually a pay cut. The GTAA was the target of two protests about low wages in March.

Unifor represents more than 14,500 workers in the airline and related industries. It is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.