At midnight on June 13, 2011, following 12 weeks of disappointing and frustrating negotiations between their bargaining committee and the company, 3800 Air Canada customer service workers officially walked off the job at airports and call centres across the country.
"It was the best three days of my career."
Workers hit the picket lines singing Twisted Sisters' "We’re not gonna take it." With spirits and expectations high, CAW members exercised their democratic right to strike. They got by with a little help from their friends: ramp workers, pilots and flight attendants, ground staff, other unionized groups from surrounding communities and many sympathetic passengers who showed their support with coffee and popsicles and teddy bears. It was beautiful.
Then Federal Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt, showing the true colours of the Oppressive Conservative Government had legislation drafted that ordered the striking workers back to work. They had only been off the job for three days. Toronto Customer Service Agent Lorrie Holden summed up the mood on the picket line when she commented later, "It was the best three days of my career."
Air Canada in league with the government may have won the battle to bash the rights of its workers, but with employee morale and respect for executive management at an all-time low, has the company ultimately lost the war? Things are unlikely to change until Canadians see a government that supports workers’ rights instead of corporate greed.
This one year anniversary is a time to remember and reflect; while we celebrate our solidarity let us remember that gains are only won by persistently moving the bar forward and continuing the fight for everyone.
On June 15, 2012, please drop by your district office for anniversary cake and to sign a very important petition opposing Labour Minister Lisa Raitt's draconian labour tactics. Don't forget to invite all of our friends from the IAMAW, CUPE, CALDA and ACPA that supported us in our time of need, as we support them in theirs.
Remember, an injury to one is an injury to all, and a victory to one worker is victory to us all!
CAW Local 2002