Unions fight over contract for Canadian cargo pilots | New
Canada’s Unifor union has sharply criticized the American pilots’ union Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) for its “interference” in pilot contract negotiations with the freight and charter carrier Cargojet.
Canadian union, which represents 16,000 aviation workers in this country, including pilots, air traffic controllers and maintenance personnel, calls ALPA “selfish” and “uninformed” in public rebuke May 8.
The conflict erupted when ALPA President Joe DePete sent letters to Unifor National President Jerry Dias and Cargojet CEO Ajay Virmani on May 7, criticizing them for what he called Heaven – and our pilots – safe.
DePete said Unifor and Cargojet are seeking exemptions from “Canadian flight, duty and rest requirements.”
The ALPA has advocated in recent years for changes to US rules that exempt US cargo pilots from certain fatigue-related rules.
Unifor does no such thing, he says.
“The fact that the president of ALPA is preaching from Virginia to our pilots on the negotiating committee about fatigue and safety rules is condescending, arrogant and disrespectful,” said Dias of Unifor. “Captain Joe DePete knows full well that 130 Canadian pilots stand to lose their jobs, and he stands ready to take their dues if operations move to the United States, where Congress has exempted airline cargo operators from certain fatigue rules, giving them a competitive advantage over Canadian Operators. “
Cargojet pilots are “in the process of voting” on a tentative agreement with the carrier which has “no intention of allowing regulations on unsafe flight and duty times”.
DePete, of ALPA, wrote to Dias and Virmani last week, saying the union was “appalled” that the Canadian union and the Mississauga-based airline were seeking to relax rest time rules to save jobs.
“I am deeply disturbed that Cargojet is using the threat of layoffs and downgrades to convince pilots to support this plan which would weaken safety and put pilots at risk, this comes at a time when your airline has declared profits important, ”DePete wrote to Virmani of Cargojet.
“[Our] Members noted that these science-based rules, while not perfect, represent a significant improvement over the previous set of regulations in Canada. Any exemption, waiver or weakening of these would undermine security and would be a slap in the face for those who fought so hard to get them adopted, ”reads his letter to Dias.
Unifor alleges ALPA has a history of interference, citing its involvement with Edmonton-based Flair Airlines.
“The ALPA is now conducting a raid on our pilots at Flair Air… It smacks of a badly disguised attempt to raid our pilots by an association which, for decades, had not been interested in small operations such as Cargojet or Flair, ”explains Dias of Unifor. “Now that the pandemic has caused massive layoffs, ALPA is reaching new lows. It is clearly an association and not a union.