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CUPE members are rallying, leafleting, advertising and emailing against Air Canada’s plan to eliminate hundreds of jobs and close bases in Halifax and Winnipeg.

This action will have a devastating impact on passengers, employees, their families and ultimately on everyone in the community.

On July 10th, Air Canada management notified flight attendants in Manitoba and Halifax, that they would be laid off in November.

The layoffs would affect 144 CUPE flight attendants in Winnipeg, 187 in Halifax and 300 in Vancouver.

Since then the union has launched a campaign to fight the cuts and the closures.

Flight attendants are contacting politicians to get their support to have the airline withdraw its planned cuts and closures.

Meetings have been held with local MPs to get their support. A number of MPs have already intervened to help resolve this situation. Send email to your MP. To date, over 3,000 people have written to express their concern.

CUPE will distribute postcards this week at the Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg to raise awareness about how the cuts and closures will affect passengers.

Newspaper ads will run this week in Winnipeg’s two major newspapers.

CUPE is planning rallies for Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver on Monday, July 28th at noon.

The company plans to cut attendant bases in Winnipeg and Halifax, leaving bases in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

Air Canada asked the Minister of Labour to exempt the company from requirements of the Canada Labour Code - sections 214 to 226, Division IX, Part III.

These provisions allow for a reasonable way to address worker concerns when there are major layoffs proposed by an employer.

Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said he will investigate the request and report by July 30th. The union has argued that there is no justification for the exemption.

Politicians have been asked to write to Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Lawrence Cannon to intervene on behalf of the Air Canada employees. Already letters have gone from a number of MPs and hundreds of e-mails have been sent from the public.

The union has asked to see a ‘base viability study’ Air Canada conducted after they decided to close the two bases. The airline has refused to release the study results.

The Winnipeg flight attendant base is the airline’s oldest. Trans-Canada Air Line was started in 1937 and the Winnipeg base was the first established for flight attendants.

After Air Canada acquired Canadian Airlines in 2000, the company reduced the number of flight attendants to 7,200 from 8,500.

Flight attendants agreed to a 13.5 per cent wage rate cut, among other concessions, to deal with the airline’s financial crisis in 2003 and 2004.

The airline was privatized in 1989. In 2000, Air Canada acquired Canadian Airlines International. The largest private sector owner of the airline is ACE Aerospace Holdings, of Toronto.

Robert Milton, Chairman of Air Canada earned a $1.2 million salary, a $3.9 million bonus and $11.2 million in stock option gains from Air Canada in 2007. He posted $23.1 million in option gains since ACE was created in October of 2004.