The Canadian Auto Workers union says it's pleased with an arbitrated settlement for its members working at Air Canada.

Approximately 5,500 employees will receive a 4.5 per cent raise over the next three years.

When the CAW signed its last agreement with Air Canada in 2003, the airline wanted a six-year contract.

The union refused and the two sides agreed to revisit the issue of wages in 2006.

Negotiations weren't a successandan arbitrator was called in.

"We certainly would have liked to have seen a lot more money, but we're pleased with the 4.5per cent [increase]," Sari Sairanen, president of CAW local 2002 representing airline workers, said Tuesday.

In addition to the wage increase, the arbitrator also formally recognized the workers for their role in Air Canada's restructuring.

Sairanen said it's a moral victory for the workers.

"It's a recognition that the tightening of our belts, as well as the workplace conditions that our members day-to-day put up with, that they're recognized for those hardships," Sairanen said.

The deal means a raise foremployees at Air Canada check-in counters, lounges and call centres, as well as crew schedulers.