Air North and union reach a possible deal

After a week of renewed negotiations, Air North and its flight attendants have reached a tentative contract agreement.

After a week of renewed negotiations, Air North and its flight attendants have reached a tentative contract agreement.

Details of the deal are not being released until the approximately 30 flight attendants vote whether or not to ratify it.

“It has taken commitment from both bargaining teams to arrive at this deal. We appreciate the amount of work that has gone into the tentative contract. There was a lot of ground to cover in a short time,” said Yukon Employees Union president Steve Geick in a statement.

If the deal is approved by the flight attendants, it will be the first union contract at the locally-owned airline.

Both sides are confident the agreement will be ratified in the next few weeks, the airline said in a statement of its own.

“We’ll streamline our costs in staffing, scheduling and compensation – and in the process our flight attendants will have the opportunity to earn more and find a better work/life balance,” president Joe Sparling wrote.

“This process presented a tremendous learning curve for the company, and we’d like to take the opportunity to thank the efforts of our management team and our negotiator. Although the negotiations took longer than either party had hoped, we feel the result was worth it.”

Not long ago, any sort of deal appeared far off.

Tensions between the two sides reached a peak at the end of September when the flight attendants began a work to rule. On some flights they refused to do more than the basics to keep the planes safe. That meant no food or beverages for passengers.

Some protesting flight attendants who refused to wear their full uniforms were sent home. Tempers flared, but after 48 hours the two sides agreed to go back to the table to continue negotiations.

Both sides then maintained a media blackout until Friday, when the tentative deal was announced.

The two sides have been negotiating since October 2013.

When the job action was announced, Geick said 85 per cent of the flight attendants approved it.

The union said employees were frustrated with the slow speed of negotiations.

The union insists that Air North flight attendants are paid lower than those in similar-sized airlines.

No one has said exactly how much of a pay bump the flight attendants are looking for.

Aside from a salary increase, other stumbling blocks to the negotiations were the company’s pay grid, guaranteed work hours and vacation pay.

Sparling has said many of the issues are tied to the company’s desire to keep full time employees and avoid laying people off in the off-season.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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