After rejecting previous offers, Edmonton International Airport security screeners have voted in favour of ratifying a new collective agreement that comes with a significant raise and bonuses.
Teamsters Canada said GardaWorld employees from Local 362 negotiated a 12-per cent raise over the next two and a half years, along with a $1,500 signing bonus for full-time workers and $750 for part-timers.
GardaWorld is the security firm contracted by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to perform passenger and baggage screening at airports in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Ontario.
The approval came after months of negotiations.
Talks to renew the collective agreement, which had expired March 31, reached an impasse over the summer. Airport screeners rejected two offers from the company: the first by 99.25 per cent and the second by 95 per cent of those who voted.
Then in July, they voted to authorize strike action should the local union deem it necessary.
Negotiations resumed after a cooling-off period, resulting in the contract that workers approved on Thursday.
The main issues in the dispute were wages, pensions and working conditions, according to the union.
“Airport security screeners have been understaffed and have seen their working conditions stretched to the limit for some time now. Then inflation has threatened further cutbacks to their quality of life,” said Teamsters Canada president François Laporte.
“Security screeners deserved a raise and a bonus, and I am pleased that their sacrifice and their important role at airports are finally being recognized,” Laporte said.
The union said staffing shortages, the pandemic and travel chaos have resulted in poor working conditions and a “pressure-cooker environment.”
Passengers’ frayed nerves and exploding tempers are the outcome of an ongoing struggle by airports and carriers to cope with the massive travel rebound this past summer.
Workers regularly face verbal or even physical abuse from passengers frustrated with long lines, delayed flights and other travel issues, the union said.
“Their job is to ensure that your and your family’s next flight is safe and secure. They deserve our respect and to be treated with dignity,” said Bernie Haggarty, secretary-treasurer and principal officer of Teamsters Local Union 362.
There are 400 people in the bargaining unit and all work at the Edmonton International Airport, the union said.