Toronto, ON – Increased service pressures, airport privatization and successor rights in the event of a contract flip are areas of serious concern for Canada’s 6,000 airport pre-board security screeners. These issues top the agenda of a meeting the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the United Steelworkers (USW) have requested with the Minister of Transport – Marc Garneau, and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu.
The two unions represent over 90 per cent of all airport pre-board security screeners in Canada.
The concerns came out of a September conference in Ottawa which brought together 60 screeners from more than 20 airports across Canada to discuss their workplace issues.
The biggest area of concern was the increase of passenger volumes and the lack of funding to cope with the demand. “Staffing levels have simply not increased enough to keep up with the new volumes,” explained IAM Airline Coordinator Carlos DaCosta. Canadian passenger levels increase anywhere from 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent on average year over year. Passenger levels expected by the end of this year will be 61 million people, that’s up from 47 million at the end of 2011. “In 2010 we had 6,790 screening officers and in 2016 there were slightly more than 6,000 officers,” said Da Costa. “Without the addition of more pre-board screeners, the lineups will only increase, passenger frustration will grow and abuse of officers will grow with it and there is an increased risk of passengers not properly screened before they travel due to pressures to move people through.”
The second concern is airport privatization. The IAM has made it very clear it is adamantly opposed to converting our airports from a not for profit model to a profit model. This makes no sense in view of data we have from other airports around the world that have gone to the for profit model. The cost structure for passengers goes up and job security for airport workers goes down.
The last issue, is the matter of successorship when an airport security service contractor changes hands. The current security contractors across Canada are contracted through an RFP process with CATSA, and the contract expires in 2022.Federal labour currently allows that in the event that the security changes, bargaining rights and the collective agreement do not follow to the new contractor. This occurred in 2011 forcing the unions to resign, reorganize and renegotiate contacts creating tremendous instability in the sector for the employers, for CATSA and for the workers. A simple amendment to the labour code for successorship rights would solve the problem. All of these points were covered in letters to both ministers sent on November 8, 2017 and we are awaiting their response to our requests for meetings.
November 8, 2017
Via email: email@example.com
The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Recently the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) and the United Steelworkers (USW) held a national joint conference for airport pre-board security screeners across Canada. Jointly both unions represent close to 6000 pre-board screeners amounting to over 90% of all screeners across Canada. Cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax, to name a few, are represented by both unions.
The conference brought together over 60 Screeners from close to 20 airports to discuss their workplace issues. At the conference, we were pleased to have presentations from both Transport Canada and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).
We are writing to raise three issues which emerged at our conference, which are of high importance to pre-board screeners. These are: The increase of passenger volumes and related underfunding, Airport Privatization, and successorship rights when contracts change hands.
Our first area of concern continues to be the increased service pressures experienced by our members. This is the result of growing passenger volumes and increasing wait times. You may know that Canadian passenger levels increase anywhere from 2.5% to 3.5% on average year over year. As a result, by the end of 2016/2017 passenger volumes are expected to be 61.8 million people, up from 47.7 million passengers in 2010/2011. By 2036 the world passenger volumes will nearly double from about 4 Billion passengers travelling this year to 7.8 Billion according to the IATA. All indications are that there will continue to be a growing demand for global connectivity, and the world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 2 decades, as quoted by IATA.
In Canada, the flying public is experiencing longer lineups at airports during peak periods and pre-board screeners are facing this reality daily. Staffing levels have simply not increased enough to keep up with new volumes. In 2010 there were 6,790 screening officers, and in 2016 there were slightly more than 6000 officers. Without the addition of more pre board screeners, the lineups will only increase along with the increased risk of passengers not properly screened before they travel. This is a security concern we need to address, and it will only get worse every year as volume increase.
A significant part of the problem is that the Federal Government continues to underfund airport security. In 2015/2016, the Federal Government collected 721 million dollars through the Air Transport Security Charge (ATSC). And yet CATSA only received 678.4 million dollars in 2015/2016, leaving 42.6 million dollars which is being taken by the Government and not going to support airport security. Those funds should be used to ensure that Canada’s pre board screening services are able to meet the increasing service pressures.
The second concern that emerged at the conference is the issue of Airport Privatization. Privatization is an area of concern not only to the Pre-board Screeners, but to other workers who work at the airports and passengers as well. Currently with the “not for profit” model in place, airports are run efficiently but we do understand there are some concerns within the legislation that need to be addressed.
However, to turn this model into a private for profit model makes no sense in view of the information we have from other airports around the world that have gone to a “for profit” model. Whether it be Australia or the UK as an example, the results are clear in that airport costs increased and those were passed on to airlines and finally to passengers.
In Canada, we have firsthand knowledge that our cost structure is already high and many passengers resort to travelling across the border to travel on airlines in the United States due to their lower prices resulting from a lower cost structure. We should not make this any worse by allowing the cost structure to increase by turning airports into a “for profit” model.
Earlier this year the IAMAW met with the Minister of Employment, Workforce, and Labour’s Secretary (Roger Cuzner) to give a short brief on this very issue including contract flipping. However, both unions welcome a future opportunity to meet jointly with you to further expand on these new concerns addressed in this letter.
Finally, we know that the majority of larger airlines in Canada, including Westjet, Air Canada, and Air Transat along with many airport authorities such as Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa are not in favour of privatizing airports for the same reasons stated above.
The third area where we need urgent action concerns the issue of successorship when an airport security service contractor changes hands. As you may know, the current security contractors across the country are contracted with CATSA through an RFP process to provide screening services at Canada’s airport which expires in 2022. However, we understand that it is certainly possible that, at that time, those contracts could be put up for tender again, leaving the workers’ livelihood in jeopardy once again.
Federal labour law currently provides that in the event that the security contractor changes, bargaining rights and the collective agreement do not follow to the new contractor. This is what occurred in 2011, with the result that each union that represented pre board screeners had to re-organize all of the workers and re-negotiate first contracts with the new security contractor.
This creates substantial instability in the sector for the employers, for CATSA and for the workers. It also makes no labour relations sense that each time a contract changes hands, the same workers would have to re-organize and bargain new collective agreements. The government, the employers and the workers should have labour relations certainty going forward.
Fortunately, this problem is easily remedied. A simple amendment to the Canada Labour Code to provide for successorship rights in the contract service sector would solve this problem. The Liberal Government in Ontario has introduced such an amendment to the Ontario Labour Relations Act and it is expected to pass shortly. The time has come for the Federal Government to do likewise.
These were three issues that emerged at the conference that we believe the Federal Government can and should address as soon as possible.
We would be happy to meet with you to discuss these issues further.
Stanley Pickthall Ken Neumann
Canadian General Vice President, National Director for Canada
International Association of Machinists United Steelworkers