Unions Launch Petition Campaign to Free Canadian Aircrew in Dominican Republic

Five crew members of Pivot Airlines being held in Dominican Republic. Two CUPE members include: Alexander Rozov (top left) and Christina Carello (top right).
Five crew members of Pivot Airlines being held in Dominican Republic. Two CUPE members include: Alexander Rozov (top left) and Christina Carello (top right).

The Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and Unifor are launching a public campaign calling on the Government of Canada to secure the safe return of five Canadians who they say have been "arbitrarily imprisoned in the Dominican Republic after reporting a crime they were not involved in."

As Open Jaw has been reporting since APR, for more than 40 days, a Canadian aircrew – including two CUPE members, one ALPA member, and one Unifor member – of Mississauga-based start-up Pivot Airlines have been "arbitrarily detained, threatened, and prosecuted after discovering and reporting 200kg of narcotics to the police," according to a joint statement issued by the unions.

"It is entirely unacceptable that our members have been thrown in jail for doing their jobs, and dutifully reporting a crime," said Capt. Tim Perry, President of ALPA Canada. "We are urging the Canadian government to take serious action and help bring our crew home."

Together, the three unions represent more than 90,000 airline workers. The unions are cautioning all travellers and employees of the risks of travel to the Dominican Republic.

"The Canadian government needs to do all in its power to bring the Pivot Airlines crew safely back home," said Scott Doherty, the Executive Assistant to Unifor's National President. "Our member is a part-time worker, who had the misfortune of becoming entangled in a dangerous situation, after finding and reporting illegal drugs onboard. Our union joins his family and friends in their concern for his safety. We need the federal government to intervene immediately."

Even though both the unions and Pivot Airlines say there is no evidence tying them to a crime, the Dominican Republic prosecutor is currently seeking to hold the five Canadians for what could be a year in detention.

"We are gravely concerned about our members and the entire crew, who have been held captive under tremendously challenging conditions," said Wesley Lesosky, President of CUPE's airline division. "The fact is Canadian lives are at risk in the Dominican Republic. We need our Government to act."

ALPA, CUPE, and Unifor are inviting members to join the call by writing to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and urging her to call for the crew's safe and immediate release. Each of the three unions has begun a petition in support of its member or members:

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