St. John’s airport strike talks resume in Ottawa

Daniel MacEachern
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St. John's International Airport

Talks between striking airport workers and the St. John’s Aiport Authority resumed this week, but neither side is commenting on progress being made.

Negotiations have been ongoing in Ottawa all week after Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt brought both sides back to the table.

About 85 members of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees Local 90916 — members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada who handle runway clearing; building and equipment upkeep; fire, security and emergency services; and administrative and billing services — have been on strike since Sept. 11, 2012.

The union has been without a pay raise since 2008 and without a collective bargaining agreement since 2009.

It has asked for a new four-year contract with a 34 per cent increase in the first year, followed by 5.75 per cent raises in each of the following three years, amounting to a 58 per cent increase over four years. The airport authority has offered 34 per cent over seven years.

The most recent round of negotiations broke off in early March after five days at the table, with each side accusing the other of being unwilling to negotiate.

With St. John’s on the cusp of tourist season, the union has turned up the pressure by picketing outside the homes of airport authority board members and sending letters to members of the St. John’s Board of Trade, urging them to speak to Board of Trade chairman Denis Mahoney, who is also the chief negotiator for the airport authority in contract talks.

Local labour leaders have rallied around the striking workers,

but Cathy Duke, CEO of Destination St. John’s, told The Canadian Press earlier this month the strike is hurting St. John’s convention business.

 Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Aiport Authority, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees Local, Public Service Alliance of Canada Board of Trade Canadian Press

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Joe
    June 17, 2013 - 20:56

    Seriously, in this day and age when people are being laid off on a daily basis. I am estatic to get a 1.5 pay raise a year. 53% is not even comprehensible. They should be ashamed.

  • Time To Move Forward
    June 04, 2013 - 05:32

    If talks break off in Ottawa, I think some government body will have to consider back-to-work legislation as a last resort to resolve the dispute. There's no way in heck that the airport is going to give them what they're fighting for. If such leglslation occurs, the workers will have to return to work or face a hefty fine, lengthy jail time, and maybe termination. Giving in to their demands will lead to bankruptcy in a matter of months. The workers have to be taught a lesson that astronomical demands is going to cause long-term problems for both the company and the workers.

  • Stay out
    May 28, 2013 - 19:14

    "The employer has counted on the "out of sight, out of mind" while the strikers have been denied the opportunity to show the public that they are on strike." People know they're on strike. It's a joke and they're a joke. I hope that they stay that way. If the airport can run like this and save a bunch of money, then we can reduce fees and taxes for the traveling public. We're taxed enough here.

    • a business man
      June 03, 2013 - 21:49

      Exactly! I would be happy to see these workers lose their jobs if it means I pay less taxes or if their wages are redirected into the health care system. At the end of the day, we are likely better off without these workers. What is funny is that they have been on strike so long that some have likely lost their homes by fighting for more than they deserve. In the end, they will have nothing, which is what they deserve. Kudos to the Airport for standing up to the union. Even if a deal is reached, the workers will think twice before striking. Frankly, all workers should.

  • From Up-A-Long
    May 27, 2013 - 18:29

    I hope this strike is over soon and the workers get a good deal from it. Until the strike is over when I need to go to St. John's I will fly as far as Gander and drive the rest of the way to town.

  • Lyndsay
    May 27, 2013 - 09:57

    Everyone seems to get their hate on because they are picketing businesses and houses. But what all media outlets have failed to mention is that the Airport put a ban on picketing at the workplace. The employer has counted on the "out of sight, out of mind" while the strikers have been denied the opportunity to show the public that they are on strike.

  • Aunt Lizzie
    May 25, 2013 - 11:00

    Two comments here: First, it should be illegal for an union to picket any person's home. Keep the picketing at the workplace. Second, the federal government should be commended for getting these talks going again, and should use all their powers to resolve this strike as soon as possible - even if it means mandatory arbitration or legislation.