St. John’s airport workers end 10-month strike

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Andrew Robinson
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Vote to ratify new collective agreement; back to work Wednesday

Striking airport workers in St. John’s will be back on the job for the first time in almost a year on Wednesday. Following up on a recommendation from its negotiation team, members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s (PSAC) Union of Canadian Transportation Employees Local 90916 voted 92 per cent in favour of accepting a new seven-year contract.

The vote to ratify a new collective agreement will put an end to a

10-month strike that was often contentious for both the union and the

St. John’s International Airport Authority (SJIAA). But now all parties will look to put that behind them and get back to work.

“It’s been a long time,” said Chris Bussey, a member of the negotiation team who also works at St. John’s International Airport. “It’s been a fairly difficult struggle, as I’m sure you can imagine, but it feels pretty good. I think we made some significant gains.”

Under the new collective agreement, employees will be paid at a level that reaches 92 per cent parity in comparison to what workers in similar jobs are paid at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. In a joint news release, PSAC and SJIAA indicated the agreement provides a weighted average pay increase of 39.5 per cent over its duration.

“The concessions that were on the table were mitigated to the point that we were very comfortable that the protections are still there for the union with regards to job security,” added Bussey.

“After 10 months, I think everybody is happy to go back to work and do what they do so well.”

SJIAA president and CEO Keith Collins was pleased to get the deal ratified.

“We are delighted to have reached a fair and reasonable settlement that achieves the best balance between the rights and interests of our employees and the authority’s responsibility to affordably manage our airport’s future,” said Collins in the joint news release with PSAC.

Bussey confirmed employees will return to work on Wednesday. Various reports indicated the strike involved approximately 85 maintenance workers, though only 60 union members took part in Monday’s vote.

The union’s last contract with SJIAA expired in 2009, meaning the seven-year contract will last until 2016.

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Public Service Alliance of Canada, SJIAA, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees Local International Airport Authority Halifax Stanfield International Airport

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