As the heavy holiday air travel period looms at the John C. Munro International Airport, 35 Hamilton airport workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are trying to secure a fair deal from airport management before the Christmas season to avoid holiday travel disruptions for passengers and cargo flying in and out of the Hamilton airport hub.
“Our members are dedicated workers who provide emergency, safety, security and maintenance services at the airport,” said Derron Vernon, president of CUPE 5167. “The last thing we want is to disrupt travellers’ holiday plans during the Christmas season – all we want is a fair deal so we can continue to provide seamless service for Hamilton airport passengers.”
Airport management and the union will attend a hearing on December 16 and 17 at the Canada Industrial Relations Board to establish an essential services agreement (ESA). Once the ESA is finalized both parties can trigger a 72 hour countdown to a legal lockout by management or a strike by the workers.
“Our members are looking to address issues that affect airport safety, security and operations,” said Vernon. “Front-line workers know the daily challenges at the airport and we want management to listen and respect our operational concerns and address those issues at the bargaining table so travelers are not inconvenienced during the holiday season and beyond.”
Outstanding issues include wages and benefits, scheduling improvements, regular and increased staff training and other issues. The workers’ last contract expired on October 1, 2008.
“We know how important the holiday travel season is for everyone and that’s why we are hoping that management also recognizes this fact, and are willing to hammer out a deal prior to Christmas,” said Vernon. “After all, the holidays are about spending time with friends and families and passengers should not be worrying about whether they will be able to get home on time.”