Air North flight attendants to resume bargaining

It’s been a busy 48 hours for Air North and its unionized flight attendants. Monday: Flight attendants began work-to-rule and stopped serving food and beverages on some flights.

It’s been a busy 48 hours for Air North and its unionized flight attendants.

Monday: Flight attendants began work-to-rule and stopped serving food and beverages on some flights.

Tuesday: The company sent flight attendants home who refused to do their full duties and wear uniforms.

Today: Both sides have agreed to resume full service and go back to the bargaining table.

“We’re very pleased to report that late this evening we were approached by YEU/PSAC to continue negotiations,” Air North chief operations officer Allan Moore said in a statement last night.

“They have ended their job action, and the flight attendants will resume full service on our flights effective immediately.”

In a statement of its own, Yukon Employees Union said the flight attendants “wish to thank all those who have showed such powerful support during this challenging time.”

Both sides have agreed not to speak with media until talks are complete and have taken all their statements and updates from the past two days off the Internet.

The federal mediator will be restarting talks on Friday, three days earlier than was originally planned.

“This is a very positive development, and we’re grateful and relieved that after two very emotional days we’re able to build some momentum towards a resolution and continue with a clean slate,” Air North’s statement said.

The conflict between the two sides began Monday, when approximately 30 flight attendants represented by YEU began a work-to-rule campaign on selected flights.

They agreed to only do the minimum amount of work necessary to make the flights run safely, but nothing else. That meant no onboard food or beverages.

“Air North’s flight attendants have been at the bargaining table for close to a year but despite their optimism and hard work they are profoundly discouraged by the lack of progress,” the union wrote

in its announcement at the time.

“All avenues available to them through bargaining have been exhausted but critical issues remain unresolved with no agreement in sight.”

The two sides have been negotiating since October, 2013.

Some flight attendants working on the affected flights Monday showed up for work in T-shirts and jeans.

The next day, the company warned that any flight attendant who chose not to do their entire job, in full uniform, would be sent home. The company sent three flight attendants home that day and replaced them with a manager and two other staff who had been newly trained to do the job.

In a letter, president Joe Sparling accused the protesting flight attendants of bullying a colleague who had showed up to work in uniform and was trying to offer full service.

He also said the protest had put at risk a lucrative charter contract.

When the job action was announced on Monday, YEU president Steve Geick said 85 per cent of flight attendants voted in favour of the plan.

The flight attendants’ complaints have to do with work conditions and wages, the union says.

As part of the new agreement neither side is talking now, but earlier this week Geick said the flight attendants’ salaries are low compared to the industry standard for other similar airlines.

“When we say industry standard, we’re not comparing them to large airlines. We’re comparing them to airlines that operate north of 60… So, Air Canada Jazz, First Air,” he said. “All this stuff is compared to similar sized airlines that work in the North.”

Part of the dispute has to do with the company’s pay grid.

“All of the competitors have between six to eight levels. So if you were to start tomorrow, within six to eight years you would be at the top of the salary range. Air North has 16. So in order to be at the top salary as a flight attendant, you would have to work for them for 16 years,” Geick said.

Other sticking points include unpaid “grey days” where employees are expected to be ready to fly whether or not they get called into work, how employees are paid their minimum guaranteed work hours, and vacation pay.

“We do earn some vacation leave. However, our employer uses our vacation leave bank to top up our guaranteed minimum wages when they do not schedule us the promised 70 hours per month,” a union statement explained.

“That means we can’t really earn vacation time at all. On paper it appears we earn sick leave but the same rules apply; any sick time we’re paid for comes out of our vacation bank.

Sept. 19 was the first time the company saw a compensation proposal from the union dealing with salaries, Sparling said earlier this week.

He said many of the issues are tied to the company’s desire to avoid laying people off in the off-season.

He said the delays were not the fault of one side.

“We certainly haven’t done anything to avoid bargaining or meeting with the other side, and I don’t think the other side has done anything to avoid bargaining or meeting with us,” he said.

“It’s just the reality of when you’ve got labour lawyers and union representatives from out of town involved. It just takes time.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wyatt's World for Oct. 28, 2020.

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 28.… Continue reading

Yukon Child Care Board chair Amy Ryder says the board could be playing a bigger role in childcare policy making if they had more financial support from the Yukon government. (Submitted)
Yukon Child Care Board asks for larger role in annual report

The board is asking for a larger budget to increase outreach and advice

Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)
Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska

Dawson City as scene from West Dawson. Art Webster, the vice-chair of the Dawson Regional Planning Commission resigned last month over the Yukon governments unwillingness to pause speculative staking. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Vice-chair resigns from Dawson land-use planning commission

NDP warns that not pausing mining activity is the road to a second Peel decision

The opening ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017. The 2021 Canada Summer Games have officially been rescheduled for Aug. 6 to 21, 2022, exactly one year from the date the national competition was originally set to take place in the Niagara region of Ontario. (Canada Summer Games/Flickr)
Canada Summer Games dates set for 2022 but uncertainty remains for Yukon athletes

Yukon athletes continue waiting to get back into schools

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council passed first reading on a bylaw for the designation change at its Oct. 26 meeting, prompting an upcoming public hearing on Nov. 23 ahead of second reading on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Local contractors will be given an advantage on a contract for the design and construction services that will see a new reception building at Robert Service Campground decided city councillors during the Oct. 26 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local firms will get advantage on contract for new Robert Service Campground building

Yukon-based companies competing for contract for new reception building will receive 20 extra points

Fallen trees due to strong winds are seen leaning on to power lines which caused some power outages around the territory on Oct. 26. (Courtesy of ATCO)
Wind knocks out power around the Yukon

High winds on Oct. 26 knocked out power to Faro, parts of Whitehorse and beyond

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read