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Union leaders say unity is only way to fair contract with Air Canada

Passengers wait to rebook their flights after Air Canada baggage handlers walked off the job at Pierre Trudeau airport in Montreal, March 23, 2012.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The Air Canada Pilots Association is urging a group of 27 former union leaders to stand down and join a united campaign to obtain a fair labour contract.

"Please consider that this battle will be a hard one, requiring your unwavering support," said a newsletter to all members Tuesday signed by ACPA chairman Jean-Marc Bélanger, ACPA president Paul Strachan and 14 other current leaders of the union.

"In spite of fear mongering and innuendos, we prefer to rely on our belief that quiet determination, combined with the deep conviction that our cause is true and fair, will strengthen our resolve and guide us to victory."

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The union brass say the former ACPA leaders have started a petition to garner support for their group, but it isn't too late to "rejoin our fold."

Air Canada has been seeking to start a low-cost carrier, to be based in Canada but with a minority stake of 25 per cent that would be held by a foreign carrier.

While the group of 27 pilots didn't specifically mention the discount leisure airline proposal, the memo cautions that ACPA's current labour negotiators need to take heed. "Nobody likes change, but change is coming. We can either attempt to influence that change or we can continue down the road of the current leadership, which will result in a far more disappointing outcome than can be achieved by recognizing the realities of our situation and modifying our behaviour accordingly," said a memo on Monday signed by former ACPA chairman Bruce White and 26 others.

But ACPA leaders countered that the "concerned" pilots' quest to have union members sign a petition to support their movement is the wrong tactic.

"Their petition is extremist and will, in our opinion, fail. We see too much membership cohesion and mobilization for it to be successful," ACPA's newsletter said. "We have entered a different phase requiring different tactics. We know that the corporation's offer will be nothing like their best and final offer. Ours will also be very different from our last tabled position. We need to be innovative and create a proposal the arbitrator will see as reasonable within a final offer process."

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More

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