Air North flight attendants apply to form union

Air North flight attendants have submitted an application with the federal government to form a union. The flight attendants approached the Yukon Employees Union in December.

Air North flight attendants have submitted an application with the federal government to form a union.

The flight attendants approached the Yukon Employees Union in December, said YEU President Steve Geick.

After discussing the process with the flight attendants, YEU submitted an application to the Canadian Industrial Labour board on their behalf.

Between 30 and 35 flight attendants will be represented by the union if they receive the certification, said Geick.

“The thing that really stuck out in my mind was the fact that, you know, they really do like their jobs, they enjoy their jobs and they enjoy flying with Air North.”

Geick would not specify why the flight attendants wanted to unionize. Their issues will come to light when they negotiate their first collective agreement, if the union is formed, he said.

Once the application is filed with the labour board, the employer is notified, said Geick.

The employer then has a chance to respond to the application. If Air North feels that some of the applicants are in a supervisory role, it could apply to have them excluded from the union.

As long as the majority of those who would be represented support the application, it is likely to be approved, said Geick.

“Usually if there’s no issues it’s a pretty straightforward process.”

The application came as a surprise to the company, said Joe Sparling, president of Air North.

They were notified by a fax from the board a little more than a week ago, he said.

“We have been having ongoing discussions with (the flight attendants) with respect to issues, as any employer does with any employee or employee group,” said Sparling.

“We were, I have to say, a little bit surprised by the turn of events.”

However, Air North recognizes that mechanisms for employees to negotiate with managers are important, he said.

“We certainly recognize and support the notion of collective representation by any employee group.

“And, in fact, we certainly recognize that as the company has grown and grows, it is necessary to keep our employees engaged and informed, and we need to have proper communication channels and a method for consolidating employee issues, bringing them forward to management and actioning them.”

Sparling could not say if he thought a union was an appropriate mechanism for this function, he said.

The union hopes to hear back from the board within about three weeks, said Geick.

The Yukon Employees Union hopes to dispel the public myth that unions represent people who don’t want to work and are looking for a cash-grab, said Geick.

“We look at ourselves more as acting in a mediation role, kind of thing, between two groups, hoping to get the best for both.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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