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Bombardier Workers to Vote on New Contract

Threatened Strike Would Impact Challenger Program

In a high-stakes square-off that speaks compellingly to rampant inflation and widening class-disparity, 1,800 workers at Bombardier’s Dorval and Saint-Laurent plants are set to vote on a new contract which, if rejected, will precipitate an automatic and unlimited strike.

On Friday, 17 June, the Canadian business-jet maker presented a final offer to the union representing workers on its Challenger program—which accounted for over one-third of the company's 2021 plane deliveries.

As inflation rises and demand for travel soars, companies like Bombardier are seeing wage disputes with workers struggling to make ends meet while wealthy consumers buy record numbers of multi-million-dollar business jets. The disparity prompted workers to reject an 11 June offer proffered by Bombardier, then walk out on 13 June.

Bombardier subsequently tendered workers an overall and final, five-year contract that includes: a first-year, average pay increase of  6.5%, retroactive to December 4, 2021; second and third-year annual increases of 3%; and fourth and fifth-year increases of the consumer price index plus 0.5%, with a minimum totaling 1.5% and a maximum totaling 3%.

The 1,800 union members will vote on this second final offer on Wednesday at a general meeting.

The union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), initially asked for higher wage increases in the last two years of the contract.

A union spokesman declined comment while Bombardier declined to discuss details of the new offer.

Predicting the path of inflation has proven difficult in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic—notwithstanding the Bank of Canada’s prediction of a return to the 2% [inflation] target by 2024. Analysts, conversely, expect inflation to hit 7.4% in May, which would be the highest since February 1983.

Aerospace companies like Bombardier are filling up their order books in the wake of high demand from monied travelers disinclined to travel by airline in the post-COVID-19 era. However, despite strong sales, a recent market sell-off and recession fears have raised questions over the long-term strength of the business-jet market.



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