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News archive for February 26, 2013

Air North flight attendants join union

The flight attendants with Air North are officially a union.

By Ashley Joannou on February 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

REMUNERATION IS FAIR – Air North has ‘always worked to have compensation packages that are comparable to industry standards,’ president Joe Sparling said today. Steve Geick Joe Sparling

The flight attendants with Air North are officially a union.

Late last week, the Canadian Industrial Relations Board unanimously approved the group’s application, Steve Geick, the Yukon Employees Union (YEU) president, said Monday.

The 33 flight attendants with the northern airline are now part of Local Y036 of the YEU and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

PSAC is now the official bargaining agent for the workers and will begin to negotiate its first collective bargaining agreement with Air North.

A PSAC negotiator from Ottawa will be assigned to lead the team representing the flight attendants, Geick said.

“Basically, what happens now is that the employer will find someone to negotiate for them, the two negotiators will be in contact and agree on a set of dates.”

Geick said the union has now begun accepting bargaining input from the flight attendants.

“What that means is that they can make submissions to us about what they want to see in their collective agreement. We come up with some of the general, common points, but the body of the agreement is based on what the employees want to see.”

Geick said he couldn’t discuss any specific concerns or details as to what the employees want to see in their new collective agreement.

The bargaining input is still being collected, he said. No official deadline has been set for that information since the date for negotiations hasn’t been finalized.

“We thank PSAC and YEU for their support during our union drive,” Michael Sofko, the Local Y036 president, said Monday.

“We are thrilled to be counted as members of this national union. We’ve found a great home.”

Air North president Joe Sparling said today he’s “going into the process with an open mind.

“In the past, we’ve always worked to have compensation packages that are comparable to industry standards,” he said.

“Whether it’s dealing directly with employees or through a union, we remain committed to that.”

The flight attendants are now the first union at the locally-owned airline.

News of the flight attendants’ desire to unionize came to light early last month.

Even then, it was not clear what was motivating the employees to unionize.

At the time, Sparling said he was surprised by the news and Geick said that information will come out in time.

Julie Docherty, the regional executive vice-president for PSAC North, said Monday members across the North are celebrating the news.

“It’s a great way to start off 2013. From our very first meeting with the Air North flight attendants, we were impressed,” she said.

“They are knowledgeable, committed workers who want the best for their airline and industry. I expect we will see many of them rise through the union to become leaders of tomorrow.”

CommentsAdd a comment

Jack Malone

Feb 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Oh, well.  It was too good to last.  The beginning of the end of Yukon’s airline.  Good luck, Joe - you’ll need it to maintain your paper-thin profit margins with this unreasonable union.  The airline attendants on Air North were terrific compared to their bitter counterparts at Air Canada - let’s see how long that lasts now when they grow to resent Joe who won’t be able to satisfy union demands unless he raises the costs for people like you and I.

So Sad

Feb 26, 2013 at 4:58 pm

It is sad that the Yukon will now have to endure higher flight costs from the major (unnecessary) costs that a union will be placing on these members which will be ultimately carried by the company and past onto the end consumer. This union will want money to manage any and all funds like retirement pension, health pkg, training funds. A union is nothing but a hindrance for the employer of this size and will miffle any chance for the employee to be heard because they will be one in a huge crowd in a union. So very sad.


Feb 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm

first strike within 18 months….

Arn Anderson

Feb 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Wow, love it, I hope Joe unionizes himself too, just for the hell of it.

Some time ago, in a education institution far away they talked of these times called the Industrial revolution right up to 1940s. These business’, owners and employers abused workers on every little thing. Now we workers have some “privileges” (they are not rights imo) like 8 hour days and some days off. Believe me, if employers had the chance to go back to the “good ole days” of business, they would in a heartbeat. Shady products, no regulations, no food safe, no air safety etc.


Feb 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I feel very bad. This is the start of the end of a fantastic airline. Good luck Joe.

Too bad...

Feb 27, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Good bye fulltime job…hello term employees.
Unionizing for such a small business is ludicrous, for all those who want to be trained, and get a foot in the door to move on from here to other airlines, well that opportunity has drastically changed. The hours and system that is used for work opportunities might not have been the ideal, but it was also part of the beauty of the job. I think you have shot yourself in the foot, and this is a great way to get people working against each other. Got a problem with another union member? Too bad, as the union won’t do a thing against another union member. Well, enjoy your kool-aid.

Jackie Ward

Feb 27, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Awwww, look at all the sad faces, lol. Why is this so hard to swallow? There are obvious problems or a union would not of been brought in. The feel happy stories you keep hearing about Air North are a side of a very small coin. Can you people just be honest about your outrage? You own shares of Air North and you worry your investment might suffer.
Please get over the “it’s my airline” nonsense. If Air North wasn’t doing it, someone else would be. That’s not an accomplishment or something I need to give credit towards. Sick and tired of this northern monopoly BS in every aspect of our lives. Competition benefits us all.

June Jackson

Feb 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Joe is a pretty decent employer who had a good relationship with his employee’s… (one thought this anyway.) I too think it is the beginning of the end of Air North as we know it. These days, greed is nearly always the motivating factor. It won’t be long before the flight attendants drag in the office workers, luggage personel etc.

That said, I also think Arn Anderson is correct. We need unions, but perhaps not in the capacity they now serve in. We need watch dogs in the industry. There are many people who cannot speak for themselves, youngsters, immigrants, new comers to the work force etc. and not all employers are a Joe Sparling either.. Good luck to everyone.. and remember, if you find that Unionization is not working for you, you can always deunionize.


Feb 28, 2013 at 4:02 am

So now, just like on the other unionized carriers, Air North flight attendants will be unwilling to do anything extra, sit in the galley reading magazines during the flight and race to deplane ahead of the passenger once on the ground.

The most replaceable staff are the first ones to unionize…

Bob Graham

Feb 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm

After a career at an International Truck Mfg., they closed most facilities in Canada which were Unionized! I was their national negotiator & negotiated all the closure agreements including the Manufacturing Facility with CAW & IAM! All agreements were ratified with high acceptance rates! Next, I went into consulting, negotiating for newly Unionized Company’s with totally brand new CBA’s in Ontario! Steel Worker’s, Food & Commercial Worker’s Union. Amazingly, they all got settled without any labour disputes, both parties satisfied & no difference in service provide by the company’s! In fact, most customer’s weren’t even aware employee’s changed from non-union to union! Nothing will change with this Air Service either provided every one stays reasonable!

Very sad

Feb 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Jackie there are two other carriers in the Yukon. Air North is the only one that truly gives back to the community. Without Air North we would still be paying a grand one way to get out of Whitehorse.The other airlines take their money out of Territory. You need to pull your head out of the sand. This Union will just add unnecessary costs. You are Barking up the wrong tree with your complaints.


Feb 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I guess it was bound to happen, but if the employees at Air North think they are going to get decent representation from PSAC then they have their heads in the clouds.  I have dealt with PSAC locally and they are absolutely useless; not sure how any of them hold the positions that they do and they know virtually nothing about labour issues.  Every month they pull union dues and do nothing to earn it.


Feb 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

” There are obvious problems or a union would not of been brought in.”
Problems like union bosses looking for another group of sheep to fleece.

Northern Girl

Feb 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm

You people need to educate yourselves.  Just because the flight attendants have chosen to go the route of a union does not mean it is the end of the company.  I know that it is not about greed, it is about respect for their jobs.  Unfortunately because of the bullying, disrespectful, bad flight attendant managers and upper management doing nothing about it is one of the reasons there is a union. Also when the flight attendants are begging to work more hours, as they make less and less money each year, and management goes and hires more flight attendant leaving people being forced to work two and or three jobs to make a living is another reason.  I am sure if any of you had that type of working condition you would want a union or quit, which several long time flight attendants did already.  I know that all the flight attendants will continue to give the customers great service as they always have because they care and they want to see the company succeed.

Arn Anderson

Mar 1, 2013 at 10:32 am

I love the like/dislike feature on the Star, it really shows societys true colors.

If you still don’t believe me why we need unions, workers rights and regulations, look at China, Vietnam, Indonesia and now India. Yes, they are moving manufacturing to India now because Chinese workers want better pay. The small pay they recieve, bad working conditions, long hours, work camps, buildings burning down killing workers, just to survive on a meaningless wage THAT our own forefathers went thru. Thats what our businessmen want to return too and they are winning. Replacing livable working wages with Wal-Mart greeter wages, work longer but no overtime, etc etc.

Press that dislike button one more time and show that you love piss-down trickle economics and lets return back to the 1800’s standard of thinking.

sam hollway

Mar 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I have heard a few things about some people feeling there were inequities when and where they were working.

In private industry people can be backed into a corner by seemingly minor power imbalances. A union sets the stage for potential improvement.

Not a Shareholder...

Mar 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Northern Girl, I think you have an education coming to you about Unions. I believe you when you say its not about greed, but know if there are issues with another employee, good luck with that. Upper management issues, well document that…document it some more…oh we lost your documentation, so can you document that again? Someone not pulling their weight? Too bad, they are a union member…
As I see it, there are only so many jobs to go around here, one might not like that you can’t get all the shifts you want, but its training, and opportunity to move into OTHER companies…training you get here, at home. There are bullies and bad managers in every job, the Union just helps to keep them planted there.

bobby bitman

Mar 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Joe is indicating that he is keeping an open mind to working with the union.  I say give it a chance.  From personal experience I do not like unions because they go too far.  I found that absolutely useless workers took solace in the fact that it was practically impossible to be fired.  But no union at all is sometimes bad for the best workers as well.  Who is going to take the chance to speak up when something needs to be said?  Apparently some tried and they were not being heard, for whatever reason.  I hope they are going into this for the right reasons, and that both sides deal fairly with each other.  It is too bad that legitimate concerns and demands were not dealt with and met without a union (assuming they were in fact legitimate).  I also wish the flight attendants had tried something else instead of inviting in a union, but they have done what they have and a union is there, so give them a chance to try to make it work.  If it works well, that will be a first so far as I know, but I don’t see that there is any choice but to hope for the best.  The flight attendants have played their trump card, and we have to wait and see what happens next, whether our worries are justified or whether they were correct in doing this.

YEU Sucks!

Mar 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Flying Fur, I couldn’t agree with you more concerning YEU. What they actually accomplish as a union is beyond me. Besides holding collective bargaining sessions every few years and putting on charity barbecues I have not seen them actually do anything for their members in my years as a involuntary member. The one time I saw someone from the union office at my workplace a fellow employee tried to bring a concern up and was brushed off.
I also do not appreciate it when they take my union dues and support the NDP party with that money in any way they can. They do not represent my beliefs or ideals and I am afraid Air North employees will also soon realize the mistake they made by associating with this basically useless union.
Many people who are already members would opt out if given the opportunity and donate their dues to some worthwhile charity instead.


Mar 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Last and least useless is the Teacher’s Union. Just a big money grab to give belief there is someone there to represent employees. Those reps are virtually useless. It’s a big “IN” club. Principals make whatever decision they want re staffing, regardless of policy. Looking to that union to represent you will get you nowhere.

I wish Air North the best, both the employees and the Company.

YEU/PSAC not by choice

Mar 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm

The union I was FORCED to join YEU/PSAC is useless and self serving.

As an example, watch what they settle for with YG on wage in the coming months.  I’ll go out on a limb and say <2%/year which is no where near the pace of inflation.  It has been like this for decades because it is easier to roll over than actually bargain.  I shovel $1,500/year into their coffers.

Ask them how many people voted on their last ratified contract.  Guess how many for and against.  You’ll never know.  They won’t tell me and I pay their frigging wages.

Lets call a spade a spade here.  Flight attendants are flying waitresses.  Not to demean either line of work. But they are generally jobs held by younger people or those semi retired.  People generally don’t make a career out of that kind of work; hence the wage.  People gain experience, maybe get some outside training and move on into actual careers.

As said by others, my decades experience in unions is that they only serve to protect those not willing to pull their weight.  So as a result you’ll have that to deal with in addition to what ever issues you had with management in the past.  PLUS you’ll pay the union a percentage of every cent you make.

Also, say good bye to all those perks like hopping on a flight out to Van for the weekend at the last minute.

You’ve made a huge mistake.

Arn Anderson

Mar 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

After reading most of these anti-union comments, which is pretty sad in my opinion, here is a hint. All those ” I love Air North” campaigns, blah blah blah DID NOT help the flight attendants in the bargaining room despite they made Air North’s image that many of you covet so much.

Now, if you seriously want to dumb-down a job like flight attendants, read the article
Now…post your job and watch me tear it up and tell you how any grade 4 student can do it, just gimme the chance, you won’t be disappointed…

Most or all of the workers rights, labour codes and ethical workplaces legislation came from Unions. As regular workers without unions wanted BETTER pay, hours, vac pay, EI, first aid response and a whole slew of other things that basically EVERYONE takes advantage of nowadays. Click that dislike button if you feel that you are entitled to let your employers treat you like crap because you love crap-down trickle economics.

Common Sense

Mar 4, 2013 at 9:24 pm

For those who comment on the union doing nothing for you… to officially claim that I guess you must:

A) never take paid sick days
B) turn back any additional vacation leave over top of the basic requirements of the Federal Government
C) suppose you turn back in your special leave
D) Probably work extra hours with no compensation
E) Shift differentials and weekend premiums never take that either
F) Ask for a lower starting wage to be fair to your private sector peers and on and on….

But I guess you are right YEU sucks, lets all turn back in our benefits, our equal treatment, and our crappy 2%.

Real Union

Mar 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Hey Arn, I think you have confused a real union with the YEU/PSAC…


Mar 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm

@Common Sense….spoken like a true union member…..

No mention/thought of actually helping the employer/customers or helping the business succeed, or using unpaid time to gain/grow professionally.  Its always about extra benefits.

This sort of attitude turns people off organized labour in the first place.

Arn Anderson

Mar 7, 2013 at 10:56 am

Notice how Real Union and Jack have no discussion whatsoever on the topic, attack the presenter but not the topic.

Flight attendants gave Air North its image, not Joe,I don’t remember Joe serving me juice in the airplane. Despite however you want to politically spin it, at the end of the day, workers have some privileges now, business wants to take that back a few notches by demonizing organized labour.

This wonderful society has managed to demonize everything society has to offer, look at the spin they put on health (disease care) and pension calling it “entitlements”, if you buy that, then you are a sucker. Keep telling the lie to yourself and eventually it will become truth. Remember only GDP determines the standard of living, therefore if GDP goes up 50% in a town but half of the population is sick, dying, depressed and eating greasy food all day long, who cares, maximize profits and GDP really counts…Call me anti-capitalist or whatever, but when I see BS, I call it like it is. ECONOMY = BS

Maggie Byrnes

Mar 7, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Northern Girl, You are out to lunch. The FA managers at Air North are bullies that won’t give you everything you ask for on a silver platter?
First of all, the two ladies that head that department are most professional, accommodating women I have ever met and had the pleasure to work with. Shame on you for calling them down in public. Secondly, you are likely new and need to prove yourself to them before they offer you what you are asking for. There are flight attendants there that have work there for decades. How about you follow their example of just working hard and enjoying the job? If this is the sentiment that you are going to a union with, for shame.


Mar 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Joe flies the plane, meets the passengers just like the rest of the great crew.  I have hopes that our airline will continue to give us the great service we have come to enjoy and in my case appreciate despite the fact it now belongs to this union.

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