Negotiations with JA Douglas McCurdy Airport in Sydney, Nova Scotia have not been going smoothly. With the employer unwilling to budge on the most sensible proposals, the bargaining team is headed to conciliation for a second time.

The other side just doesn’t get it; our bargaining team members will not accept proposals that see their existing working conditions rolled back. Our members work day in and day out to make the airport a safe and secure space for the travelling public; it’s high time this employer show our members the same level of commitment and respect.

The bargaining team has reasonable demands. High on its list of priorities is an Employee Assistance Program, which would provide our members with options for professional counselling and advisory services when needed.

It’s baffling that this employer doesn’t see the value of an EAP program; a workplace wellness program, by definition, will improve the workplace. Happy and healthy employees are positive and productive employees.

In the simplest terms, it’s a win-win for the airport.

Another issue filed under “B” for baffling: this employer refuses to recognize that employees who are trained to fight fires, are hired for their capacity to fight fires and work with all the tools necessary to fight fires (including a truck designed to fight fires!) are indeed firefighters.

These are members who are ready to put their lives on the line to save the lives of travellers. Yet, this employer won’t even dignify their work with the appropriate title.

Do we need Captain Obvious to state the obvious?

They are firefighters. Period. Full stop.

And they deserve respect – not pettiness – from their employer. UCTE won’t accept any less.

It’s time this employer starts negotiating in good faith. It can start that by being willing to create a workplace where mental wellness is a priority and employees are valued for the vital work they do.

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