Amid growing tensions between airlines and their pilots in Canada and the U.S., on 17MAY, the Executive Board of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) approved a merger with the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) representing the airline's 4500 pilots.
ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union. Air Canada now becomes the union's 40th pilot group, growing the Association to more than 73,000 members.
“We are excited to welcome our colleagues at Air Canada to ALPA... Together, our combined union will have greater strength in negotiating collective agreements, advancing pilots’ interests, and protecting labor rights,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA president. “Adding their voice to our collective strength unifies the profession in an enormous way.”
The merger agreement goes into effect immediately, and all representation rights transfer from ACPA to ALPA with notification to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. As Open Jaw reported, the two sides reached a merger agreement in principle in MAR, and Air Canada pilots voted overwhelmingly to ratify the deal on 01MAY.
“This is a monumental time for Air Canada pilots,” said ACPA Master Elected Council chair First Officer Charlene Hudy. “By merging with ALPA, 95 percent of all professional Canadian pilots are represented by one union with one voice. With the collective strength of over 73,000 pilots in North America, we look forward to working toward a better future for the piloting profession and aviation industry as a whole.”
“Unity among all pilots is our greatest strength and today, Canadian pilots across the nation are unified with a strong voice." added Capt. Tim Perry, ALPA Canada president.
"ALPA is committed to advancing the profession and aviation safety, and with the addition of our Air Canada colleagues, we have dramatically increased ALPA’s presence across the nation, making us stronger in negotiations and on Parliament Hill.”
As Open Jaw has noted, Air Canada pilots are pressing for higher salaries and better scheduling. Reuters reported earlier this month on the contents of a letter from the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) highlighting pilots' concerns about working at a disadvantage compared to other North American pilots, and expressing their refusal to accept concessions.
The report indicated the ACPA has been deciding whether to continue within an existing 2014 agreement or trigger an escape clause for comprehensive negotiations before 29MAY.
It's not known how the merger with ALPA - or WestJet pilots' standoff with their airline - will influence that decision.