Air Canada seeks alternative route for debt collection

Employees paid company for training
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 04/20/2015

In Air Canada's pre-employment agreements with its rouge flight attendants, employees were required to reimburse Air Canada for the cost of certain training. After this training was completed and employment began, the employer deducted these fees from the flight attendants’ paycheques.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the exclusive bargaining agent for the employees, filed a grievance. The union argued it did not authorize the deductions and the deductions were not negotiated. Arbitrator William Kaplan agreed with the union in his June 13, 2014, ruling.

According to Kaplan, any deductions from pay must be negotiated with the exclusive bargaining agent. The ongoing deduction from negotiated wages went to the heart of the employment relationship, he said, and it requires the agreement of the bargaining agent. He found the employer could not collect on the training debt in this fashion absent the union’s agreement. Kaplan ordered the employer to cease the practice immediately and any monies deducted from flight attendants for this purpose were to be returned within 60 days to all current and former employees.