No Delays Reported Despite PWA Strike
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ Pacific Western Airlines flights were on schedule and airlines officials reported no delays today as 1,800 unionized employees went on strike.
A three-union alliance of ticket agents, flight attendants and machinists set up picket lines at Vancouver International Airport shortly after midnight after talks broke down. No new negotiations were scheduled.
Strikers are upset with concessions proposed by an airline they call one of the most profitable in North America.
In a telephone interview from Calgary, airline spokesman Jack Lawless said Tuesday the strike shouldn’t affect the airline’s ability to maintain its domestic and charter service.
He said the airline has hired 250 people and will use them and 500 non- union and management personnel as flight attendants and ticket agents.
He said daily maintenance has been contracted out to Transport Canada- approve d shops. Transport Canada is Canada’s federal transportation agency.
Lawless said he believes the airline, which has a fleet of 22 Boeing 737s and flies to 40 communities in Western Canada, Ontario and the Northwest Territories, can maintain its existing schedule.
The airline also flies charters to South America, Mexico and several U.S. points.
Calls to PWA’s Seattle office this morning were answered by a recorded statement saying the airline’s reservation and downtown ticket offices were closed during the ″labor dispute,″ but all flights would be operating normally and ticketing could be handled through travel agencies.
The Vancouver office of the airline also reported no delays today.
The United Auto Workers, representing ticket agents, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Canadian Airline Flight Attendants Association urged passengers to fly on other airlines.
″I think there’s a question of safety,″ said Bob White, Canadian director of the United Auto Workers. ″Look at the flight attendants; they’re replacing people who have years of training and experience with people who may only have a couple of weeks of training. I’d be very nervous.″
Lawless said all new employees and management people have taken Transport Canada training programs.
White said the airline is seeking rollbacks on working conditions, vacation and sick pay from his union. The machinists say the airline wants an increase in the work week plus greater flexibility in job categories.
The flight attendants say PWA wants them to accept a two-tier wage structure and a larger part-time force.
The flight attendants’ contract expired Oct. 31, while contracts for the machinists and ticket agents expired July 31 and Aug. 31 respectively. Half of the 1,800 union members are based in Vancouver.