St. John’s Airport not serious about negotiating end to strike

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Public Service Alliance of Canada is disappointed that negotiations with St. John’s Airport failed Tuesday.  The union appreciates the efforts by Mayor Denis O’Keefe in bringing the parties back together to end a 100 day-old strike.  The PSAC negotiating team returned to the table hoping the employer was prepared to move on issues that would result in a settlement. 

At the meeting, the union focused on the key issues of job security, contracting out and wage parity with workers at HalifaxAirport.  Unfortunately the employer refused to renew language that it had agreed to in three previous rounds of negotiations and made no substantive change to its wage proposal.


“We owed it to the mayor, to our members, to the traveling public and to our supporters in the NDP and in the labour movement to see if the employer had a mandate to end this strike,” said PSAC negotiating team member Chris Bussey. 

The union negotiating team, its lead negotiator and a senior researcher were at the table on Tuesday ready to bargain and eager to settle.

At the meeting, the union clearly outlined a path to an agreement.  It quickly became clear, however, that the employer’s proposals on critical issues of job security and contracting-out remained “must haves”. 

“Our objectives have been clear from the beginning and throughout this strike,” said Bussey.  “The employer knows we will not give up the existing language on job security and contracting-out, which the employer has already agreed to in previous collective agreements.  We are not looking to change this language or even to improve it, just to keep the protections that have already been negotiated between the parties.  We also want to ensure these protections for future generations of workers.”

The union also believes that weakening job security will do nothing to help the airport’s current difficulty with recruiting and retaining workers.  In fact, the union is convinced that weakening protections around job security will only make recruitment and retention a bigger problem.

“Good, secure jobs give workers added reason to stay at the airport,” says Bussey.  “Business is booming.  The provincial economy is booming.  The employer has no good case for concession bargaining at a time like this.”

Despite Keith Collins’ pubic statements, he has been absent throughout this process and was not at the table Tuesday.  Until he provides his team with a new mandate, the union does not see how this strike will be resolved.

“We don’t want a prolonged strike. We want a fair contract. We want to do the work we’re proud of.  And we want life to get back to normal,” said Bussey.

Members at the St. John’sAirport, UCTE Local 90916 have been on strike since September 11, 2012.  They provide operational services, including runway clearing, buildings and equipment upkeep, fire, security and emergency services, as well as administrative and billing services.  All duties outlined in the Essential Services Agreement are being carried out to ensure the safety of the traveling public.   

These employees are proud members of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a national union with over 180,000 members.  

Contact Lesley Thomson, Communications Officer, PSAC, 902-471-6201