International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers

International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers

June 01, 2006 09:00 ET

Machinists Urge Direct Federal Control of Airport Security

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor, Transportation Editor VANCOUVER, B.C. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--(CCNMatthews - June 1, 2006) - The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the largest union in Canada's air transport sector, has told an advisory panel reviewing the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) the federal government should take back direct responsibility for security, including screening, the pass system and funding.

"Having the federal government in direct control is essential for accountability and coherence of the system," said IAMAW Canadian General Vice President Dave Ritchie. "If the job of passenger screeners, our front line of airport security, is truly important, they deserve to be regular employees of the federal government." Added Ritchie, "the public deserves a service provided by workers who are treated with respect, with decent wages, benefits, working conditions and employment stability."

For decades, the Machinists have decried the low priority placed on air transport security by the federal government - in particular, the practice of downloading passenger screening - the front line of security, to air carriers, who in turn contracted the work out to the lowest bidder. "This low bid system has led to inconsistent standards, high turnover of poorly-paid screening personnel and a lack of accountability," explained Ritchie.

The problem was compounded in the 1990's when control over federal airports was offloaded to local airport authorities, which added yet another layer of bureaucracy and further diffusion of accountability. "The federal government's creation of CATSA in response to the events of September 11, 2001, has solved nothing," said Ritchie. "The combination of unaccountable airport authorities, the CATSA structure and the continuation of the contracting-out process raises major concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest and self-dealing."

Ritchie was adamant that unions representing the screening workers maintain successor rights when a screening contract is transferred. "It is essential that screeners retain their full rights, including seniority and benefits when a contract is transferred. Their unions shouldn't have to re-sign their members and renegotiate their collective agreement just because the employer changes."

The Machinists also told the advisory panel that the long-awaited independent appeal process for air industry workers in respect to airport security passes must be introduced immediately.

As the largest transportation union in Canada including security-screening workers at 15 airports across the country, the IAM also called for improved security measures. "Security measures including standardized training requirements across the sector, need to be clearly prescribed and closely monitored, and their effectiveness must constantly be tested and assessed," said Ritchie.
"The key component in all of this is public accountability. It's essential if we're going to have any confidence in our airport security. In my view the only body that can provide it is the federal government."

The IAMAW represents more than 16,000 workers in Canada's air transport sector.
/For further information: Dave Ritchie – IAMAW Canadian General Vice President
Bill Trbovich – IAMAW Director of Communications
416-386-1789 ext 31/416-735-9765

Contact Information

  • Bill Trbovich, Director of Communications, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers - IAMAW
    Primary Phone: 416-386-1789 ext. 31
    Secondary Phone: 416-735-9765