New deal could mean fewer year round jobs: Air North

Air North says its tentative collective agreement with flight attendants will likely mean cutting back on year-round jobs. President Joe Sparling says that’s what happens when people want a bigger piece of a pie that hasn’t changed.

Air North says its tentative collective agreement with flight attendants will likely mean cutting back on year-round jobs.

President Joe Sparling says that’s what happens when people want a bigger piece of a pie that hasn’t changed.

“The total number of flight attendants that we employ will likely not change, but you’re going to see more seasonal employees and less full-time, year-round employees,” Sparling said this morning.

On Friday, the Yukon Employees Union, which represents about 30 flight attendants, released a statement saying it had ratified its first collective agreement.

In has been a tumultuous relationship between the two sides. Negotiations began in October 2013.

In September of this year, the flight attendants began a job action that lasted a few days.

Everyone agreed to go back to the table and a deal was reached.

YEU president Steve Geick said the deal was ratified at a series of meetings over the last two weeks. He wouldn’t say how many flight attendants agreed to it.

“I can say it was resounding,” he said.

The company hasn’t officially ratified the deal yet. Sparling says lawyers have to go over it to make sure that it says what everyone agreed to.

“If it does, the ratification should be fairly straightforward,” he said.

It appears both sides don’t see eye-to-eye on the consequences of the new collective agreement.

“I think you’ll see seasonal employees that will work for the peak season in the summer and they’ll work for full-time hours,” said Sparling. “They’ll probably revert to on-call in the winter where they’ll work only as required.”

Specifics about forthcoming changes to the number of full-time workers won’t be made public until the company ratifies the deal, said Sparling.

Geick, meanwhile, said it was his understanding that the number of full-time jobs wouldn’t change.

“It is my understanding from the negotiator – and I wasn’t at every meeting when they were negotiating – was that it was decided that there was going to be enough full-time work to sustain. So I’m not quite sure what he has in mind,” Geick said.

Geick said he would be speaking to the union’s negotiator for clarification.

One of the major issues in the dispute had to do with work hours.

Air North used to guarantee its full-time employees 70 hours of work a month. If that amount wasn’t met, their pay cheque could be bumped up using vacation pay.

That practice is no more, Geick said. Neither are “grey days.” Those are days when employees were required to be ready to work but may not have been called in.

A new scheduling system, based on seniority, will help streamline things, Geick said.

Geick said that under the new contract, the full-time work hours were bumped to 75 a month during the off-season and 80 during peak times.

On top of that, employees will be getting, on average, a five per cent pay increase over the three-year life of the deal.

The salary grid, which used to mean it took 16 years for a flight attendant to reach the top of the pay scale, has now been decreased to nine years.

Sparling said he’s happy that employees will be getting more hours, but he’s constrained by basic math.

“We’re happy, and in fact we’ve always encouraged flight attendants to work more hours, it’s a good thing for the company, a good thing for them. But the obvious outcome is that it requires less employees and that’s kind of what you’re going to see.”

Both sides sounded worn out by the process.

Geick is critical of the public backlash – particularly online – that the flight attendants got.

“What upset me the most was the comments about the flight attendants. The ‘glorified waitress’ kind of thing. ‘Go get a job at McDonalds, that’s what you do.’ These people are highly trained… and if something goes down on a plane, they’re the ones that are going to save your life. They’re they ones that have the training.”

Sparling said he’s also glad this part is over.

“I think it’s been a distraction. I’ve said so from the get-go, it’s been a needless distraction and we need to be all focused on the business of running the airline and making it profitable.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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

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