The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) fended off a complaint by 76 of its members over losses they suffered as a result of a tentative agreement with Air Canada.
The tentative agreement itself was roundly rejected by union members shortly after. The workers' previous contract expired on March 31, 2011.
The workers who laid the complaint against the union include aircraft maintenance, baggage and cargo handlers, airplane cleaners, and people who do the logistics around procuring parts and supplies for Air Canada.
The workers said that the union had failed to represent them fairly in contract negotiations that resulted in a tentative agreement on February 10, 2012.They alleged that the union negotiators did not tell their group of workers about the negotiation session that resulted in the agreement. As a result, the negotiators made concessions in terms of wages and vacation and did not address key workplace issues.
The workers' proposal to the board was to split their unit into two units, one for skilled maintenance workers and one for the other employees.
The Canadian Industrial Relations Board dismissed the complaints on the grounds that the union "turned its mind to their concerns and negotiated the improvements that it was capable of achieving."
"The fact that there may be some variance in the results achieved for the different groups of employees within the unit reflects the union’s appreciation of the labour relations realities of the workplace," said the board in a unanimous decision.
While the union "won" the case, it will now have to build a new rapport with these workers. And the workers themselves will need to organize themselves in a way that builds solidarity, rather than relying on a third-party labour board to fix their union for them.
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