Bombardier, DHC Union Workers Strike in Toronto

 - July 28, 2021, 12:30 PM
Striking aerospace workers protest outside the Bombardier/De Havilland Aircraft Canada production facility in Downsview, Ontario.

Bombardier and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada (DHC) continue to negotiate with union leaders after some 2,200 workers went on strike Tuesday at the Downsview facilities in Toronto, where the Global series of business jets and the Dash 8 regional turboprop are built. 

At issue for the members of Local 112 (production and skilled trades workers) and 673 (technical, office, and professional workers) are pensions, use of contractors, and erosion of bargaining unit work, while concerns at De Havilland center on the future of the Dash 8 program. Bombardier sold the Downsview site to Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board in 2018, and both companies plan to depart the facility. Of the total on strike, approximately 1,500 unionized workers equate to about three-quarters of Bombardier's workforce in Toronto, while 700 are DHC employees. DHC and Bombardier maintain separate collective worker agreements, but they expired at the same time.

“We will remain at the bargaining table with both companies as the strike action is ongoing,” said Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, the national union that represents both groups. “[We] will continue to make every effort to reach a fair settlement but we have a number of key issues to resolve with both employers.”

 A Bombardier spokesperson told AIN “the talks continue and we are focused on seeing the process through to an agreement.” The airframer did not discuss the production impact.

DCH noted in a statement that it has worked with the union for several weeks to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, but it stressed that any such deal must not only provide sustainable opportunities for union members but reflect the need to transform the company amid current market challenges and a need to vacate the facility.

“The sale of the production site by the previous owner Bombardier in 2018 established deadlines by which the runway must be demolished and the aircraft site vacated. Put simply: from the moment of that land sale, aircraft manufacturing at Downsview was on borrowed time,” it said.

The manufacturer, which reported earlier this year that it would pause production of the twin-turboprop airliner, added that it intends to be ready to meet new aircraft demand as the industry recovers, but will not rush to a decision on a future production location.