·  USW@Work magazine, Spring 2022

Atlantic Screeners: Bargaining for post-pandemic gains

An illustration of a passenger going through airport security with two airport screeners - one behind the screening equipment and one using a metal detector. All three people are wearing masks. Members of USW locals 5319 and 9342 are airport security screeners working at 15 airports in Atlantic Canada. The two USW local unions are covered under one agreement and they are heading to the bargaining table with Securitas this spring. The USW represents airport screeners in all three districts in Canada.

At the start of the pandemic, the aviation industry was one of the largest hit. Airports in Canada that weren’t designated
as primary ports of entry were either running at minimal operations or completely shut down, resulting in layoffs across the board. At one point, eight closed airports weren’t guaranteed to be re-opened even after the pandemic.

For those fortunate to remain on the job, it was a stressful time. They were the last to be provided with face masks, face shields and plexiglass dividers between screeners and passengers. Every day they went to work, they weren’t sure
if they would get sick. Every passenger was a threat to their health and safety. This brought uncertainty, stress and hardship on our members.

Looking to the current situation, screeners would like to see practical improvements to their contract that recognize their
efforts and work dedication. On top of the list is to make sure there is contract language on protecting members first in any public health emergencies in the future.

The cost of living is at a 30-year high in Canada and members need wages to keep up. Members would also like
to see an increase in pension premiums to keep up with future inflation.

“We’re looking to make sure that members continue to have a good career and provide for their families,” said Mark
Arsenault, USW Local 5319 President, representing the airport screeners in N.S., N.B. and P.E.I.

“We’re looking for the employer to remember that members worked hard through the pandemic. We hope they come
to the table to reward our members for their efforts and dedication to the industry,” said Rose Bragg, USW Local 9342
Chief Steward, representing airport screeners in N.L.

The USW held a screeners’ conference in February to coordinate our bargaining efforts.

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