Canadian Airport shamefully enabling contract-flipping

February 22, 2023

Montreal, QC – Earlier this month, Aéroports de Montreal announced that Menzies Aviation, Samsic Assistance and Trans-Sol Aviation Services are the successful companies that will be granted ground handling licenses to operate at Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport (YUL) resulting in a loss of hundreds of International Association of Machinists (IAM) jobs.

Contract-flipping, which is what is happening at the Montreal Airport, is the practice of awarding service contracts for work, and then changing providers every few years. The successful bidder for the contract is generally the one with the lowest bid. This has the effect of lowering wages and benefits, and creating great uncertainty in the lives of workers and their families.

“The IAM was at the forefront in pushing for contract-flipping legislation changes. It is incredibly frustrating that one of the biggest airports in Canada has given airlines a vehicle to flip these contracts to keep workers’ wages low. It’s a disgusting practice. Each time a contract is flipped, workers must reapply to the new employer, only under different work rules and pay structure,” said David Chartrand IAM General Vice-President Canada.

Last week, the IAM was made aware that our members at Airport Terminal Services (ATS) and Swissport would be losing their jobs later this year. Not all of the new companies have any experience working at the Montreal Airport, nor do they have any infrastructure or staff. They must hire workers to fulfill the contract.

In the past, there was no limit on ground handlers operating at Pierre Elliott Trudeau (YUL) airport. Until recently, where Aéroports de Montreal decided to limit the licenses to ground handlers and go to a request for proposal process (RFP). Aéroports de Montreal then allowed a committee of airlines who operate at YUL, to review, set parameters and ultimately decide who is awarded the licenses.

Continued Chartrand “It’s shameful that Airports de Montreal has set up this process to stagnate worker wages. Airport workers at YUL deserve better. Swissport and Airport Terminal Service are long-tenured employers at YUL. It’s not lost on the IAM that the airlines committee chose three non-unionized companies as the successful applicants for the licenses. The IAM is currently reviewing all avenues to protect these workers earned rights.”

The IAM represents the largest amount of workers at Canadian airports.

The IAM has long advocated for legislation to end contract-flipping to protect Canadian workers in air transportation. Follow this link for just a sample of this advocacy: IAM Position Statements by Industry – IAMAW