Airline unionization bid raises customer questions

Airline unionization bid raises customer questions I read with interest a recent article which stated that Air North flight attendants were considering forming a union. As a union member for the majority of my working life, I certainly recognize the adv

I read with interest a recent article which stated that Air North flight attendants were considering forming a union.

As a union member for the majority of my working life, I certainly recognize the advantages, and in some cases the necessity, of worker unions – particularly when large numbers of workers must negotiate with powerful and impersonal employers.

This does not appear to be the case with Air North. The issues that prompted the attendants to contemplate unionizing were not stated, the suggestion being that all would be made clear in due course. The article also quoted a spokesperson as saying that the attendants “loved their jobs.”

Frankly, I didn’t really follow, but then I’m not a flight attendant. I do, however, feel I have a vested interest, not because of my vast shareholding (two shares) but because I am a longtime Yukoner and feel that Air North truly is my airline. It employs my friends, former students and family members, and when I board Air North in B.C. or Alberta I feel that I am almost home. It is the carrier I strongly recommend to visitors; it is the employer who, until this time, has never elicited anything but praise from any employee I have spoken with, at the ramp, cockpit, cabin, counter or office.

In other words, Air North has worked hard to create a sense of family and I would hate to see that lost. For the flying public, cabin attendants are the face of Air North and despite the challenges and inevitable frustrations inherent in the job I have never seen any one of them behave in anything but a friendly, courteous and professional manner. I want to see them happy.

In the matter of unionization, the decision is obviously theirs, but I would caution them to be careful what they wish for. If the current source of frustration is significant, if the problem is intractable and all other avenues have been explored, then maybe it is time to consider unionizing. In my experience, however, the process tends to promote division among staff and antagonism between staff and employer, creating an “us versus them” atmosphere.

I would hate to see that happen to my airline.

Ted Garland


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