Winnipeg Airport Strike Backgrounder
Time for the Airport to Stop Negotiating in the Media
Sunday Afternoon (July 23, 2017), after four days of discussion aimed at trying to resolve the important issue of contracting out of bargaining unit work, the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA) shut down any further discussion by presenting their final offer for a five-year contract. Then Monday morning, they put out a media release suggestion that it was the union that walked. This is false. The fact is that the employer indicated there was nothing more to negotiate and walked away from the table at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
This episode is simply further indication of the employer’s inability – thus far – to negotiate a fair collective agreement at the bargaining table. They seem bent on negotiating thru the media – not through mediated talks between the parties.
That has been the union’s approach throughout this process. It advised the employer 72 hours before the start of the strike that it was prepared to continue to work with the mediator to achieve a fair collective agreement. Furthermore, following the walk out by the employer, PSAC reminded them that a strike could be avoided if they presented an acceptable offer over night. No offer was received and as a result the employees went on strike Monday, July 24 at 3:00 a.m.
The employer is not interested in changing the language in the collective agreement. This approach simply allows them to continue contracting out bargaining unit work as they have been, and which employees have identified as their biggest concern to address and get fixed in this round of bargaining. The language in the collective agreement must change in order to stop the erosion of bargaining unit work.
This has clearly been a priority for the workers from the very beginning of negotiations which have been underway since October of 2016 with the union’s core concerns well established. Four of the seven days of intensive negotiation this past week – with the assistance of a federally appointed mediator – were focused on the contracting out of employees’ work.
Despite all of this, when tabling their final offer, the employer stated in that document: “Anything not addressed in this document is intended to stay as it is in the existing collective agreement or as earlier proposed by the employer.” Unfortunately, aside from wages and the duration of the Collective Agreement this document addressed nothing else - including nothing about contracting out.
Our proposal was a format for achieving acceptable increases and the employer refused to utilize that structure when they responded with their final offer. It is clear that the employer is not interested in negotiating a fair increase at the bargaining table. The employer conceded that provisions of the last round of negotiations in 2012 produced savings worth 21% every two years. But in the end they chose to dismiss any of these considerations and stated: “Wages will not be increased further beyond what is presented in this offer.”
Let’s Get Back to the Table
It’s time for the employer to show their employees that they are valued and respected. Only a negotiated agreement will end this strike. PSAC encourages the employer to stop negotiating through the media and return to mediation to resolve the roadblocks. It’s the only way to get a fair collective agreement.