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YVR stikes may impact Whistler

Union boss warning of 'significant delays' this long weekend but airport authority says business as usual



Union representatives for over 300 workers at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) issued a 72-hour strike notice today, Tuesday, Aug. 27, warning that Labour Day long weekend travellers could experience "significant delays" as a result. However, YVR has denied that there will be any delays at all.

Over 80 per cent of the affected workers voted to strike early in August. The employees provide services such as emergency response, customer care for international arrivals, runway maintenance, airfield and approach lighting, passenger loading operations, maintenance and administrative services.

Global News is reporting that negotiations with a mediator are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this week to try and avert a job action.

Anne Murray, vice-president of community and environmental affairs at the Vancouver Airport Authorit, said that they have an agreement in place with essential staff. "This is federally regulated and we do have a Maintenance of Activities agreement with the union with roles essential to keeping the airport operating as normal for whatever time it takes," she said.

"It is Labour Day and it will be busy, so we do encourage people to check our website, and check with the airlines before they come."

Some of the key concerns put forward by the union include work hour flexibility and job protection - specifically for protection from contracting out of jobs.

"YVR says they're one of B.C.'s top employers, but are refusing to discuss our demands around work-life balance and job security. They also want to weaken the apprenticeship provisions in our Collective Agreement and create a two-tier wage system by creating a new class of 'season' workers," said Dave Clark, the regional vice-president of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in an interview with Global News on Aug. 12.

The union is recommending that travellers contact their airlines to check on the status of their flights.

It's still unknown how this might affect Whistler - most late summer travel to the resort is regional. However, a prolonged strike could impact fall conference business. As well, there's a potential to impact the RBC GranFondo Whistler on Sept. 7, as a growing percentage of participants in the 122km ride from Vancouver to Whistler are destination travellers.

Murray said picket lines won't be allowed in the terminals, but there may be outdoor picket lines. However, Murray said picket lines will be "safe and allow the respectful passage of customers and other employees"