Air North check-in agents and baggage handlers at the Vancouver airport are now members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The Canadian Industrial Relations Board decided this week to allow the 138 workers to form a bargaining unit, and be represented by the union. The employees had voted on the move earlier this fall. 

USW spokesperson Scott Lunny says the employees work for Air North in Vancouver, but are also contracted out to work for other airlines, such as American Airlines and Air Mexico.

Air North employees working elsewhere are not affected. According to company president Joe Sparling, the Yukon-based airline has between 500 and 600 employees in total.

Sparling says the company recognizes employees' right to organize, and he doesn't expect it to have a significant effect on operations.

The company and the union both expect bargaining to begin early next year toward a collective agreement.

Sparling says the company also expects to begin negotiations with the Public Service Alliance of Canada around the same time. That union represents Air North flight attendants.