Appeal Court sides with Unifor on EVAS pilot hearing jurisdiction

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An EVAS aircraft in the sky.

ST. JOHN’S - The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal has ruled that Unifor’s challenge of an arbitrator’s decision affecting Exploits Valley Air Services (EVAS) pilots can go forward.

“The employer took advantage of the pandemic and denied pilots their recall rights as airline operations ramped back up, forcing them to unfairly re-start their careers upon their return,” said Jennifer Murray, Atlantic Regional Director. “Unifor will continue to fight for EVAS pilots and protect the rights enshrined in their collective agreement.”

An arbitration award in March 2021 found that when the employer paid severance pay to pilots as required by the Canada Labour Code, their seniority and recall rights were extinguished. The arbitration took place in Halifax because COVID-19 travel restrictions at the time prevented the union and employer representatives and the arbitrator from travelling from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland.

Unifor filed a judicial review application seeking to have the arbitrator’s award set aside. The application was filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador because that is where the employer is based, where the collective agreement was made, and where the relevant employer actions occurred. EVAS applied to have the judicial review application dismissed, arguing that the application should have been filed in a Nova Scotia court. Unifor appealed from a single judge’s decision granting that application in January 2022.

“We are pleased the Court of Appeal understood the circumstances of the arbitration and didn’t allow the arbitration location to determine whether these pilots’ rights should be respected,” said Tammy Moore, President of Local 2002, which represents EVAS pilots.

With the January 30 appeal victory, Unifor will seek a hearing on the original application that attacks the arbitrator’s award that stripped pilots of their recall and seniority rights.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries, contact: Unifor National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte @email or 902-717-7491