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Global Helicopter Pilots Association

Old 3rd Nov 2008, 16:17
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Global Helicopter Pilots Association

The Canadian Industrial Relations Board will be hearing CHC's arguments supporting their 2nd objection to the GHPA's application for certification (unionization). The hearings are scheduled for 24-27 November in Vancouver. They will be arguing that they (CHC) are not the 'True Employer'.
It has been nearly 2 years since the initial application in December 2006. The CIRB ruled 100% in favour of the GHPA on the 1st objection. CHC appealed this decision and once again, the CIRB ruled 100% in favour of the GHPA. Unsatisfied with these decisions, CHC launched a separate case with the Canadian Federal Court of Appeals. CHC hopes the Court of Appeals will overturn the CIRB rulings. This case will be heard in early November.
CHC is claiming that any pilots hired by CHC are actually employees of whatever subsidiary company they are sent to work for. For example, if a pilot is sent to Thailand, he effectively becomes an employee of Thai Aviation Services (TAS) and is not an employee of CHC.
This is a 'long-shot' and desperate attempt to do anything to stymie the legitimate attempt by a majority of the pilots to organize. CHC is doing everything within its power to try to bleed the GHPA of resources (financial). The OPEIU is backing the GHPA and CHC is losing the legal battle.
If the GHPA wins, this will be a landmark case. No longer will international helicopter companies be able to hide behind a legal facade that keeps pilots from organizing.
Stay tuned for more.................
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 07:50
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Great.

Thank you for the update.

November will be over before we know it and hopefully we will know where we stand.

It's too bad that the company turned this into something bitter.

The jurisdiction matter was a ligitimate point of contention for the company and it did need a ruling. But from the moment that the CIRB ruled that they had indeed jurisdiction, CHC should have accepted it and moved on.

This new objection of not being the true employer is frankly ridiculous and everybody knows that it will be rejected, CHC included.

What a waste of time...

Last edited by Plakstift; 5th Nov 2008 at 10:43.
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 12:00
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What a waste of time...
Exactly the point......CHC intend to drag this out for as long as possible with the hope that we give up.
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 13:23
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Here is the text of the message from Christine Baird, the President of CHC Global Operations, sent to all employees after the GHPA application for certification was submitted;

"Dear Colleagues,
As you may be aware, our helicopter pilots have recently formed an association - the Global Helicopter Pilots Association (the GHPA) - and applied to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (the CIRB or the "Board") to be certified as a union. As you may also be aware, the company has resisted that application and recently appeared before the CIRB to have it dismissed.
In light of the company's resistance to the GHPA's application for certification, we understand that there might be some misunderstandings or mispreceptions regarding the company's willingness to address issues raised by employees from time to time. In light og that, I am sending this memorandum to all employees to explain the company's position before the CIRB and to reaffirm Global Operation's commitment to insuring that it is, and will remain, an open, cooperative and consultive organization.
First, our position before the CIRB during the hearing last week was that the Canadian Labour Code does not apply to our pilots working in foreign jurisdictions. As these pilots do not work on or in connection with a 'federal work, undertaking or business' - as that phrase is defined in the Code - they do not, in our view, meet the test for certification.by the CIRB.
The Board will consider the arguments made by the parties and will make a determination in due course. I'm told that it may be several months before we see a decision.
Blah, blah, blah.............."

The CIRB ruled not once, but twice in favour of the GHPA, that it does have jurisdiction over the pilots application for certification. They simply cannot accept this simple fact. Now, they have tabled an appeal before the 2nd highest court in the land, the Canadian Federal Court of Appeals, in an attempt to have the 2 decisions overturned. Presummably, if this attempt fails they will apply to the Supreme Court of Canada!

And now, the GHPA will have to disprove the rediculous claim that CHC is not the 'True Employer'.

It begs the question - Is CHC truly an open, cooperative and consultive company as they claim to be?
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Old 4th Nov 2008, 17:17
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The ruling I read indicated that some CHC Global pilots definitely (100%) are under CIRB jurisdiction while others very likely are not.

Not quite the complete support of GHPA's position as stated here. I haven't seen a subsequent ruling clarifying this stance. Is it available online?

At least everyone is finally admitting that it is, in fact, a union.
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 14:03
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Getting the Facts Straight

The CIRB ruled 100% in our favour and included 100% of all the pilots employed in our application in spite of attempts by CHC to have non-Canadians, Canadian non-residents, etc., etc., disqualified.
The complete ruling, including the ruling on the appeal, are offered as public information on the CIRB website.
And finally, regarding whether or not it's called a union or association, the GHPA offered CHC the option of retracting our application, provided that they would sit down and talk to us. We were laughed out of the office. The only other option available to force CHC to sit and talk with us was certification and that means we have the right to be considered a union (with all other associated rights and protections).
I appreciate your concerns about embracing a union. When you are dealing with a management team that sees communication as a one-way street however, you have to use whatever legal resources at your disposal.
All the best.
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 14:40
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union newbie warning!

myassisgrass,

Without being labelled as a nutter/a-hole/whatever I would like to ask a question....

Your time at work and most of your professional lives are tightly regulated in the various countries you operate in and by the company, so, how exactly will a union/association benefit you guys?
Your hours are regulated, duty times ditto, most of you are on equal time rotations and supply and demand governs salaries, you have pension and medical - what more do you want?

I am not trying to be inflammatory here, so bear with me please. I do not see the point of unions, so please enlighten me.

If my compatriots decided they wanted to form a union they would need to convince me of the benefits of union versus non-union, so that is what I am asking of you........

What is the point of a union/association?
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 15:23
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I have no dog in this action, so to speak, so I'd like to add my two bits.
Unions have a place when management is not always sweetness and light. If management were perfect, there would be no need for unions. Mind you, in a perfect world, we wouldn't need management or regulatory authorities either. There is at least one company in the Gulf of Mexico that treats their people really well, and has been able to keep the union out.

The issue for a union is to find a balance in representing their member's interests. It's a little known fact that the main airline union, ALPA, spends most of their money in making sure they have representation on all the technical committees that impact airline operations. This is a huge expense, but it's the only way they can make sure that their main interest - safety - gets heard. They have been instrumental in many of these committees in preventing bad ideas from organizations like the FAA and management from becoming rules.

The other main reason is to make sure wages are reasonable. ALPA will send their accountants in to look at the books when an airline cries 'no money', and has accepted the truth when they find it.
If you want a really interesting story get 'Flying the Line' from ALPA, and you'll recognize a lot of parallels to the current helicopter industry.

I'm not going to say that unions are perfect. There have been lots of abuses of power by unions, and times when personality gets in the way of logic and reason. But a union staffed by good people, who are backed by reasonable people in the ranks can be a very positive thing.
If you don't get involved one way or another, you deserve whatever happens to you!
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Old 5th Nov 2008, 16:17
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I agree 100% with the previous post. As a pilot in the field, the question to ask is, "What can a union bring to an equation?".....In one word.....Representation. An individual has but one voice. Often, that voice, as reasonable and as logical as it might be, is only one voice and as such, has no strength. A union of pilots allows one strong voice that can and must be heard by management. Management is often directed by economics and the loudest voice heard is an accountant's voice. Management is often not intimately involved with the issues that must be faced by the workers in the field....namely, the pilots. Without a union, decisions are made, policies are set and people's careers and lives are in the hands of their supervisors. Try having one bad day and see how difficult life gets without a professional body behind you providing support and representation.
The airlines and the professional pilots therein have recognized and have had representation before management by unions for decades. Somehow, we (helicopter pilots) have seldom organized and consequently we have never had the same advantages. Consequently, we have had our fates determined by management alone and when we have a problem, we stand alone.
And then there is the question of salary. Without an effective bargaining unit, what incentive is there for management to give fair and equitable pay increases when times are good? Their first responsibility is to their shareholders, not their employees. When senior management is rewarded by bonuses dependent on profitability, lower salaries generally equals more profitability and this generally equates to higher bonuses for management. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Who represents the pilots?
I don't have much experience with unions but over the years, I really cannot say that we, as pilots, have lived up to our potential. Perhaps a good union will help us along the way. It can't hurt to have professional representation. Right now, we have none.
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Old 6th Nov 2008, 09:12
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Thanks, guys. It is already starting to clear up for me.

Cheers,

UL
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Old 6th Nov 2008, 16:26
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myassisgrass is absolutely right, the management is (necessarily) first responsible to shareholders. If the company is not profitable it will eventually become insolvent. This is of little consequence to the pilots if there is a shortage - they simply walk across the road to a solvent employer needing pilots. Labor employed in a company is a cost. Management tries to minimize all costs. They will pay the minimum required to retain pilots, which is why you see pilot salaries creeping up during shortages, especially if competing companies whipsaw salaries to poach pilots from other operators.

There are still advantages to employers to deal with unions, especially if the same union represents a spectrum of pilots working for the same competing companies - less chance of poaching and whipsawing because salaries are fixed for the term of the contract. Less backroom deals, better morale, etc.

On the downside, the select pilots (the "blessed" ones) can no longer expect that "special" deal not offered to other pilots. The union now becomes obliged by law to represent the pilot's interests. Layoffs and terminations also become more set in stone, with the company responding by setting better standards and evaluation systems to keep the deadwood out.

In a case of dispute between the pilot and the company, the union is legally accountable for the representation of the pilot. Depending on how CHC fragments in the coming years it will become a demanding task for GHPA to argue before whatever board of jurisdiction recognizes them for a remedy. Got a problem? Call your union rep, only they can take a grievance up with management. In the case of a labor dispute not being resolved between CHC and GHPA it then goes to arbitration before a labor board. So if you are a Sri Lanka pilot that got his butt kicked by a Malaysian manager because you were working for one of the CHC "shell" companies, your case will come before the ........Labour Relations Board of British Columbia??? Where is that, some small country in South America?

Interesting concept to have a union organized under the jurisdiction of the country where a company keeps its head office - even though that company has no flight operations in that same country and most employees don't work or are resident of that country. So if the CHC head office really does move to Amsterdam the GHPA will re-register there?
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Old 6th Nov 2008, 16:40
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So if the CHC head office really does move to Amsterdam the GHPA will re-register there?
Really! Is this on the cards.............. There's no info for us mushrooms!
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Old 7th Nov 2008, 01:33
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The union now becomes obliged by law to represent the pilot's interests.
Will membership therefore be automatic by default if a pilot is an employee?
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Old 7th Nov 2008, 02:52
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Membership in the union will follow Canadian, and for the most part, international rules. Membership is optional. Everyone pays dues however, because everyone benefits from the efforts of the union (benefit improvements, salary increases etc.)
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 09:34
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"The hearings are scheduled for 24-27 November in Vancouver."

Any news?
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 15:42
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4 days of hearings concluded......likely one more to go (Dec 4th). Expect a summary report to be posted once the incredible claims by CHC are heard in their entirety (lawyers summations are all that remains on 4th)
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Old 30th Nov 2008, 21:32
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Do you think the union will do anything or just take our money and laugh like hell doing it? Just like all the bail out money in the US.
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 12:15
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gasr
A lot of the effectiveness of any union depends on the people who are taking part in the process. If you don't get involved, you deserve whatever happens to you. If you let hotheads get elected, prepare for the worst.
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 17:47
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Shawn.

Thank you for showing how one can be diplomatic and civilized when you replied to "garsr1".

Well said.
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Old 2nd Dec 2008, 02:42
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I would hope that they would work for our interest, but it seems that people are out for their own. In current times it is hard to believe the reps. I am not union, but see both sides. I would like a little more security in this business but who wouldn't want that.
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