The Union for aviation workers

Unifor represents roughly 12,900 members in the air transportation sector. About half work for airlines (like Air Canada, Jazz, Porter, Sunwing and other regional carriers) as customer service agents and pilots. The other half are employed in support services to the airline industry, including nearly 3000 Unifor members who run Canada's air navigation system (NavCanada). Other support services, including airport maintenance, baggage handling, and airline catering round out Unifor’s membership in this sector.


Who organizes the Union?

The employees form their own Union. Usually, a committee is formed to inform and sign up their co-workers, and the committee receives direction and assistance from a Unifor organizer.

What are the legal requirements for certification?

If a union files an Application for Certification with the support of the majority of the employees in a workplace, then the Board would certify the Union as the bargaining agent in that workplace after conducting its standard process.
This means that the certification would occur automatically, without holding a vote—section 28 of the CLC. If the Union files an Application with less than 50% but more than 35% support, the Board will conduct a secret ballot vote. Section 29(2).

Can I help my co-workers in joining the Union?

Yes. Organizing and participating in a union are legal activities and rights, and those rights are protected under the Canada Labour Code (CLC).

Do you lose anything when you join the Union?

No. Once a union applies for a certification vote, the Labour Board requires that all terms and conditions of employment are “frozen” and can not be changed without the Union’s consent. Section 24 (4) of the CLC. That means that if the Union gets certified, bargaining would start from your current conditions and move up from there.

Can my employer take any action against me for joining a union?

No. The decision to join is solely up to the individual without undue influence, threats or coercion from management. Every person is free to join a union of their own choice—section 8 of the CLC.

Does the employer ever find out who supported the Union?

No. The CLC guarantees the secrecy of all membership evidence, and employers never find out and never get to see the membership cards. Section 25 of the Regulations Relating to the CLC.

What happens if an employer violates workers’ rights during an organizing drive?

Notify the Union immediately. The Union can file an “Unfair Labour Practice Complaint” with the Labour Board, who in turn has the authority to order any remedy that it feels is appropriate and that addresses any violation of the CLC. Sections 94, 96, 97 & 99 of the CLC.

Can management staff belong to the Union?

No! The Canada Labour Code prohibits people who exercise managerial functions from belonging or interfering with the formation of the Union.

What is the function of the Union in our workplace?

The employees ARE the Union in the workplace. Union Stewards and other positions are elected to represent their co-workers with
management and ensure that the company does not violate the contract. A Unifor National Representative provides assistance, direction, research and education to Stewards and other employees in the workplace. The Unifor National Representative also assists in settlement of grievances.

What is a collective agreement?

A collective agreement or a contract is a legal agreement between a union and an employer, covering wages, hours of work, working conditions, benefits, rights of workers and the Union, and a procedure to be followed in settling workplace disputes.

Who negotiates the contract?

After a successful organizing campaign, the affected employees meet to put forward proposals for the contract and elect their bargaining committee amongst themselves. The committee, along with a Unifor National Representative, would then meet with the employer to obtain a satisfactory agreement as mandated by their co-workers. Unifor Representatives direct and lend expertise at all stages of negotiations with full input from the elected bargaining committee at all levels.

What are union Constitutions & By-Laws?

They are the rules and regulations that govern the Union, elected and appointed officers, the revenue of the Union and the welfare of the membership. The Constitution and By-Laws were created by the membership and can only be amended by the members of the Union by a 2/3 majority vote at the convention.

How will we benefit from joining Unifor?

Documented statistics clearly show that unionized workers do far better than their non-union counterparts in wages, benefits, and working conditions year after year. Contract bargaining ensures that all workers have a regular say in wages, benefits, and working conditions. Furthermore, a contract gives unionized workers a legal right to grieve improper pay rates, health & safety issues, application of negotiated benefits, unjust treatment or discipline, etc. This process ensures that problems, issues and concerns will not be sidestepped but rather be mandated to be dealt with within particular time limits. At work, unionized workers benefit from representation from elected and trained  Stewards who receive direction and assistance from the Unifor National Representative assigned to your workplace. Unionized Unifor workers also have access to the complete resources of the Union and the various departments that assist workers.

They include the Service, Legal, Communications, Skilled Trades, Human Rights, Health and Safety, Education, Research, Pension and Benefits, Workers’ Compensation, International Affairs, Organizing, Women’s, Work Organization and Training, Recreation, Political Action & Membership Development Social Justice and Retired Workers.

They provide the specific expertise and knowledge required to do so and are services available to all Unifor members.

Without a union and a collective agreement, you give management the sole discretion in determining what is fair and just concerning all of your conditions of employment and without any means to challenge any decision that management makes.

For further information:

Billy O’Neill
Unifor National Representative Organizing
[email protected]

Lucy Alessio
Unifor National Coordinator Organizing
[email protected]