Winnipeg Airports Authority handed strike notice

More than 100 employees could go on strike at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport next week.

More than 100 employees could head to the picket line on Monday

More than 100 employees at the James Armstrong Richardson International Airport could go on strike Monday morning.

More than 100 employees could go on strike at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport next week.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority received a strike notice late Thursday night from the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE), affiliated with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Negotiations between the unions and the WAA started on Monday and will continue through the weekend, but in a news release PSAC said if the talks break down a strike will start at 3 a.m. next Monday.

"Our intention is to get a collective agreement for the members working there that does not weaken their job security and includes appropriate monetary conditions. We are prepared to stay at the table as long as possible," said Marianne Hladun, regional executive vice-president of PSAC Prairies.

"As long as talks remain productive we are prepared to extend the deadline."

PSAC and UCTE represent about 150 employees at the airport, including duty managers, administrative workers, tradespeople, IT workers, airfield maintenance and labourers. There are nearly 4,000 employees at the airport.

More than a year without a contract

They have been without a contract since June 30, 2016, the news release from PSAC said, and have been in negotiations since last October.

Hladun said the main issue has been around the use of contract workers. The current agreement has strong no contracting out language, but she said the airport authority has increased their use of contract workers.

WAA spokesman Tyler MacAfee said the authority doesn't contract out union work. 

"We haven't contracted any work that is done by union positions right now and, in fact, we have actually increased the number of positions that are in union at the airport," he said. 

MacAfee added that WAA is hoping to avoid any labour disruption with the continuing mediation.

"These are our colleagues, our coworkers, and we really do want to find a solution to this that works for everybody," he said. "So we don't want anyone to have to go on strike or feel they have to go on strike. We want to find a solution for this." 

But if there is a strike, he said, the WAA has a contingency plan in place and doesn't expect any significant disruption to operations at the airport.