Negotiations have begun for the first collective agreement between Air North and its flight attendants.
The crafting of the agreement is expected to take some time, said Yukon Employees Union president Steve Geick.
On Wednesday morning, the union presented its package of demands to the airline’s management. On Thursday the reverse happened and the airline gave its own set of demands.
Now both sides will take some time to review the documents before setting a date for their next meeting.
“Both sides will go back and look at the packages and then the next date will be set,” Geick said.
That could be weeks from now, he said.
Since this is the group’s first contract, Geick predicted negotiations may take longer than usual.
“Both sides are going to want to, very very carefully, go through the other package,” he said. “It’s not like we are working from a base document. First agreements usually take some time.”
There is currently a “blackout” in place preventing both sides from discussing publicly what is being considered behind closed doors.
“Generally speaking, what they’re looking for is parity with other northern airlines,” Geick said of the flight attendants. He pointed to examples like First Air and Canadian North. Both of those northern airlines are currently represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Geick said that Air North flight attendants realize all airlines are different and are not looking for a “line for line, dollar for dollar, matchup.” But those deals offer a similar model to follow, he said.
“It doesn’t mean we want exactly what they have, but we need to move in that direction.”
There are currently about 35 flight attendants who work for the independently owned airline.
Flight attendants began the process of becoming a union back in January. The Canadian Industrial Relations Board approved the application about six weeks later.
The union negotiator in this case is Erna Post. Post has negotiated contracts for the union with the Yukon government and Yukon College.
Allan Moore, director of commercial development for Air North, said that “due to the sensitive nature of negotiations” the company would not be commenting on the situation while the discussions are underway.
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