The results are in
Union votes in favour of collective agreement with First Air

Jorge Barrera
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 10/00) - It's been called a great first step and an absolute joke.

The votes were cast by midnight, May 5, and the results were announced May 8. Sixty-five per cent of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 2213 voted in favour of their first collective agreement with First Air.

"We aren't happy," said a union member, part of the 35 per cent who voted against the contract.

"It's (the contract) one of the biggest jokes I've seen." said another member who also chose to remain anonymous.

The three-year package includes raises that range from 67 cents to $2.30 in wages.

The pay scale was one of the sticking points between management and the union's bargaining committee. It pushed negotiations to the breaking point.

Two mediators were appointed by the federal government for the conciliation process after talks began to deteriorate.

Meetings were held in Hull, Que.

The issue of seniority remains unresolved to the union's satisfaction. But most union members took a pragmatic approach.

"We'll get them next time," said the chairman of the CAW local 2213 bargaining committee Troy Broman.

"In 60 days we're forming a committee to re-evaluate the Northern allowance issue," he added.

CAW national representative Serge Portelance said the deal is a step in the right direction.

"At least now there is a base," he said. "Next time, the priority will be things like Northern allowance."

Jim Ballingall, vice-president of marketing and sales for First Air, said management was pleased with the agreement.

"A team effort put this together," said Ballingall. "The conciliation process worked for both sides."

The negotiations, which began in September, 1999, came close to breaking down in March.

Other benefits won by the union include the scheduling of rest periods, and posting of schedules 14 days in advance.

"It'll take a while for people to get used to, but it is a start," said Broman.