MONTREAL – After months of talks to renew collective agreements, thousands of employees of Bombardier and the Airbus-controlled limited partnership, who are assembling the A220 in Mirabel, have spoken on Saturday differently about the content of the agreement’s employer offers.
They were gathered at the Palais des congrès in downtown Montreal to take part in two separate assemblies.
The first to speak in the morning were the approximately 3,200 Bombardier employees assigned to the CRJ aircraft program in Mirabel, Dorval and Saint-Laurent. They accepted the employer’s offer in a proportion of 66%. Their new employment contract is valid until December 3, 2021.
Bouncing back at the 2:00 pm meeting, the 1,000 or so union members dedicated to assembling the A220, formerly known as the C Series, rejected the offer submitted to them in a proportion of 73%.
As a result of this refusal, the union immediately called for a new vote to establish a strike mandate before returning to the bargaining table. The members still present overwhelmingly supported the strike mandate in a proportion of 98.6%.
This strong mandate must serve as a warning to the employer since it is not enforceable. If the union really wants to go on strike, it has to go back to its members and vote again.
The general meeting was to be held in two stages since the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) negotiated simultaneously with Bombardier and with the limited partnership because of a reciprocal agreement reached there a little over a year.
Since Airbus took control of the commercialization of this aircraft, employees assigned to the A220 no longer work exclusively for Bombardier.
If the employees in the Airbus-controlled division were clearly dissatisfied with the proposal, the union had recommended its acceptance. The IAMAW Quebec Coordinator, David Chartrand, felt the offer was good because of the job security provided by Airbus and the protection of the pension plan.
“Considering that Airbus is a big company that just settled here and got the C Series for next to nothing, the employees believe they should not have to make concessions to keep what they have moment, “said Mr. Chartrand to explain the refusal of its members.
Loss of purchasing power
Several employees interviewed lamented that the employer’s offer represents a loss of purchasing power. They believe that the sacrifices made over the years to save the C Series should be rewarded. The bonuses received by senior management only add to their dissatisfaction with an offer of a two per cent salary increase for three years.
On the union side, David Chartrand sees things a little differently. “What I’ve said to people is that what they consider sacrifices have created 1200 jobs, not counting non-union and supplier jobs,” he said.
The IAMAW coordinator also reiterated that the current proposal included the development at Mirabel of a new plant dedicated to an intermediate assembly stage called “Pre-Fal” (for “Final Assembly Line”). The union argues that such an installation would create 150 to 300 additional jobs.
Deception at Airbus
In a press release issued a few minutes after the conclusion of the general meeting, the limited partnership behind the Airbus A220 program said it was disappointed with the workers’ decision.
The employer party promises to work “in close collaboration with the management of the union to find a solution”.