Labour leaders warn that Jazz pilots and flight attendants could strike as early as June 13th. The unions say the regional carrier needs to raise wages for unionized workers and scale back payments to shareholders.
Union officials say their members have made a series of painful sacrifices to wages and benefits in recent years, while between 2005 and 2009 CEO Joseph Randell has seen his base salary rise by 88% to $567,039 a year.
Jazz pilots earn an average of $75,000 a year. Senior flight attendants on the “A scale” make an average of $43,000 a year, but those hired after 2004 are restricted to the “B scale,” which has an annual salary range of $22,000 to $26,000. The two unions’ last collective agreement expired nearly a year ago.
Jazz spokeswoman Debra Williams played down the union leaders’ warnings about a strike. “A strike mandate is a normal part of the negotiation process and we remain committed to letting the collective bargaining process continue its natural course,” Williams said in a statement. She pointed out that three of six collective agreements at Jazz have already been ratified.
Air Canada relies heavily on Jazz flights to feed its major hubs and is optimistic that a work stoppage will be averted. “It is Air Canada’s expectation that a satisfactory resolution will be reached between Jazz and its unions. For Air Canada, it is business as usual,” an Air Canada spokesperson told the Globe and Mail.
In what is called a ‘capacity purchase agreement,’ Air Canada is responsible for paying for Jazz’s fuel costs, airport user fees and navigation fees, while Jazz covers wages, salaries, maintenance and aircraft leases.