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Air Canada pilots picket at Toronto's Pearson calling for better wages, working conditions

Toronto·New

Air Canada pilots are demonstrating at Toronto's Pearson airport Friday, calling for better wages and working conditions as talks with the country's biggest carrier continue.

Picket line will not affect Air Canada's flight schedule, both union and employer say

Airplanes tails with maple leaves on a tarmac.
Air Canada logos are seen on the tails of planes on June 26, 2023. The so-called informational picket at Terminal 1 is not expected to affect Air Canada's flight schedule, according to the Air Line Pilots Association and Air Canada. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Air Canada pilots are demonstrating at Toronto's Pearson airport Friday, calling for better wages and working conditions as talks with the country's biggest carrier continue.

The Air Line Pilots Association kick-started the bargaining process in June, one day after fellow union members at WestJet ratified a new collective agreement.

The union represents more than 5,000 Air Canada pilots.

Both union and employer say the so-called informational picket at Terminal 1, which comes the same day their own nine-year deal expires, will not affect Air Canada's flight schedule.

Charlene Hudy, who heads the union's Air Canada contingent, says the agreement has grown stale, with co-workers leaving for better pay in the United States.

Air Canada says it remains engaged in productive discussions with the union, with the deal's provisions remaining in effect.

Pilots north of the border have been seeking gains that will bring them closer to deals won by their counterparts in the U.S.

Between March and September, pilots at Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines secured agreements that included four-year pay hikes ranging from 34 per cent to 40 per cent.

Hudy called the wage gap between Canadian and American pilots "unacceptable."

"We're striving for this world class contract that Air Canada pilots do deserve," she said, highlighting career progression and job security as other points of contention.

"There was a point in time back in 2013 when we were pretty comparable — almost even — with our fellow counterparts at United." But starting next year, United pilots will earn 92 per cent more, she said.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the ongoing discussions are "a normal part of the bargaining process.

"We are committed to reaching a fair, negotiated settlement with our pilot group," he said in an emailed statement.