Machinists' Union Says Arbitration Undermines Bargaining at Air Canada: Arbitration Undermines Rights: Union

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - The union representing mechanics, baggage handlers and other ground crew at Air Canada says the federal government's decision to impose arbitration on its talks with the airline is eroding labour rights.

"This will undermine free collective bargaining and poison labour relations across Canada," said Dave Ritchie, Canadian general vice-president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Citing a need to protect the economy, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt proposed back-to-work legislation on Monday that would send the airline's disputes with the Air Canada Pilots Association and the machinists' union to binding arbitration.

Under the "final offer selection" arbitration process, the union and airline will both put forward their best offer and an arbitrator will pick one.

"Final offer selection does not allow the arbitrator to take into consideration any one item for which it would make sense to change on either side's behalf," Ritchie said.

"(Raitt) could have accomplished her objectives through the introduction of compulsory arbitration which gives the arbitrator the latitude to forge a balanced agreement."

But the minister says the federal government is not taking sides in the dispute by initiating final offer arbitration. …