Written By: Bob McIntyre

The airport that serves as a regional hub for this part of Northeastern Ontario and the James Bay coast could be shut down by a strike next Friday, March 1st.

Nineteen workers have been without a contract for over two years at the Timmins airport. Union of Canadian Transportation Employees regional vice-president Martin Mika says without them, the airport can’t operate.

“These members are essential to the safety and security of the airport,” he says.. “ They’re the ones who plow the roads and communicate important breaking information for pilots landing in Timmins.”

Those workers are maintenance and airfield technicians, foremen, mechanics and electricians.

A web post from the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees targets Timmins Mayor George Pirie, as highest elected official for the city, which runs the Timmins Victor M. Power Airport. Photo credit: UCTE.

The major sticking point, according to Mika, is the city wanting to roll back benefits that have been in place since it assumed the airport 20 years ago.  Combined with the one-point-five-percent raise being offered, and Mika says it amounts to a pay cut.

“The mayor and city council need to send the city negotiator back to the table with a deal that doesn’t rob our members of long established rights.”

Meanwhile, the lead negotiator for the city won’t talk about the union accusation, refusing to negotiate in the media or on social media.

Director of corporate services Rock Foy accuses the union of not recognizing bargaining as a two-way street.  He says instead, it ignores city demands while telling it that it needs to respond to union demands.

Next Friday is the end of the cooling-off period following conciliation.  Foy says the city has no plan to lock the workers out.