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Toronto This morning, six months after joining Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), flight attendants with Sunwing airlines sat down with the employer to negotiate their first collective agreement.   

We are hopeful we will come to a fair agreement. We expect a healthy collaboration on behalf of the employer” indicated CUPE representative, Caroline Bédard. She added “our goal for these negotiations is to raise the fight attendants’ working conditions to the level of standards set by the airline industry.” 

Last March, approximately 700 flight attendants chose to join CUPE in a vote conducted by the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

Since the vote, the union local has been busy building, training and organizing. The negotiating committee on the union’s side is made up of 8 members and at least one comes from each of the airlines’ five bases: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montréal and Québec.   

They decided to have at least one representative per region in order to facilitate communications with the rest of the members and keep them up to speed with the talks” added Caroline Bédard.

Sunwing is a highly profitable company in an industry where competitors are struggling. Management totes up that they are the only airline with a profit margin oscillating around the 6% mark, while their competitors are showing margins closer to the 1% and 1.5%. The airline carrier continues to grow. Sunwing wants to expand up to 20% to 30% in 2012-2013. 

CUPE is Canada’s largest airline union. With workers from Sunwing, CUPE now represents nearly 10,000 flight attendants at both large and smaller air carriers including: Air Canada, Air Transat, CanJet, First Air, Cathay Pacific, CALM Air, Canadian North, and the ground agents at Porter Airlines in Ottawa.

SOURCE : Canadian Union of Public Employees

Contact information: 

Caroline Bédard, Union representative, CUPE, 514 743-5599

Lisa Djevahirdjian, CUPE Communications,  514 831-3815