The pilots of Air Georgian, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), filed a request for conciliation services with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).
The pilots are the second Air Georgian employee group seeking conciliation, following the airline’s flight attendants’ request earlier this week.
According to ALPA, Air Georgian management continues to demonstrate a pattern of subterfuge and delay by first filing an uncommon application challenging the Canada Industrial Relation Board’s prior order that split employees into three separate unionized workforces, which delayed the pilots’ start of negotiations by seven months.
“Once negotiations began, management only made themselves available for approximately 10 days during the last nine months,” said Capt. Jim Macarthur, chairman of the Air Georgian ALPA pilot group. The conciliation process now starts the clock on a series of deadlines in the bargaining process under the Canada Labour Code.
“Recognizing that our management team has only agreed to 2 of about 30 contract sections means that we have a lot of work to do with the FMCS’s assistance,” said Macarthur. “However, we are committed to reaching a fair agreement that will bring our pilots’ pay, benefits, and work rules closer in line with our industry peers.”
The Minister of Labour now has 15 days to appoint a conciliation officer to work with both parties to resolve all outstanding issues. The conciliator has a 60-day mandate and, during this time, will work with both parties to reach a tentative agreement. If the parties are unsuccessful in reaching a tentative agreement, there will be a 21-day cooling-off period. After this cooling-off period, the parties may, if necessary, engage in a strike or lockout.
“It is time for respect,” Macarthur said. “It is time for management to recognize the significant contributions that the Air Georgian pilots bring to our airline and get serious about negotiations so that we can reach an agreement without a strike.”
Air Georgian pilots are backed by a $1 million grant from ALPA’s Major Contingency Fund (MCF), which is a war chest that provides pilots with the necessary resources to respond to threats against their jobs and the piloting profession. These funds will be available for the pilots to educate the traveling public about their fight for a fair contract and to assist the pilots with funding a strike center and picketing events, should conciliation be unsuccessful.