Sunday, September 07, 2008

Air Canada Jazz flight attendants leave Teamsters, start independent union

Air Canada JazzFlight attendants at Canada's largest regional airline, Air Canada Jazz, have formed a new independent union. The new union, called the Canadian Flight Attendants Union (CAFU), will replace Teamsters Canada Local 938, as the flight attendants' collective bargaining unit.

An article about the new union in the Toronto Star quoted Joslyn Dicks, president of the CAFU, who said that Air Canada Jazz flight attendants had been unhappy with their representation by the Teamsters ever since contract negotiations in 2004 that had resulted in wage cuts.
The wage cuts mean as many as 300 of the union's newer flight attendants make only $19,000 a year, Dicks said. She said flight attendants also wanted to split with the Teamsters because the larger union left some decisions to union officials rather than the workers themselves.
The formation of the new union comes after two prior attempts failed. This time 460 workers voted in favor of the new union in a mail-in vote, which closed Sept. 2, versus 178 who voted to stay with the Teamsters, according to the Toronto Star.
Dicks said the new union, which is effective immediately, will give decision-making power to its members and start fighting Jazz's two-tiered pay system, under which new employees have a lower pay scale.

"We understand the issues," she said. "We want to build a good relationship with the company."
The new union's president, who has been flying for 20 years, said that although the CFAU was formed specifically for Jazz, she hopes it could one day represent flight attendants at other carriers as well.