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GVP Stan Pickthall on the COVID-19 pandemic

March 11, 2021

Attention: All Local Lodges, District Loges and Staff

Sisters and Brothers:

Today marks exactly one year since the World Health Organization declared a worldwide pandemic.

I am certain we can all reflect on the sweeping changes that this has brought forth; both in our workplaces and in our personal lives. I simply wanted to take this moment to consider and respect those who lost their lives to Covid-19. I know that most if not all of us have been touched by the passing of a family member, a friend, or a colleague. To those members and their families, we offer our sincere condolences.

Then too, there are the many, many IAM members who have lost their jobs as a result of the changing circumstances over this past year. Certainly, with stay-at-home orders across Canada, there were huge layoffs in retail and customer-facing businesses. For the IAM, it was simply over a matter of weeks that we went from winning awards for the work we were doing in Organizing and growing the Canadian IAM membership, to layoffs that numbered in the many thousands.

This impact has been particularly devastating in the air transportation industry, where air travel both internationally and domestically has been drastically reduced. Air Canada has reported passenger levels that are less than 10% of just one year previously, and other air carriers such as Air Transat and Sunwing have been similarly affected. This has resulted in downstream impacts upon airport providers from ground services to wheelchairs to airport security screeners.

And further impacts are being felt in the Aerospace industry, resulting from airline carriers parking existing aircraft and cancelling orders for new planes. (https://simpleflying.com/air-canada-a220-order-cancellation/)

Yet over those same twelve months, IAM staff and Representatives have been working hard on behalf of their membership from coast to coast. In every District and Local Lodge across Canada, the officers and Reps have been negotiating on behalf of their members in efforts to maintain as many members as possible in the workplace. We have been lobbying both in the workplace and with Governments for benefits for workers impacted by this pandemic.

I thank them all for their hard work and constant efforts on behalf of IAM members.

The IAM Canada website (http://www.iamaw.ca/covid-19-news/) has dozens of documents set forth in order to educate and mobilize our members. We continue to push forward on worker’s agenda issues, and to demand our government bring forward solid supports for industry that will benefit working Canadians.

As I write these words on this one-year anniversary, there is hope in the form of Canada’s vaccine rollout. We now have approval from Canada Health for four separate vaccines to be used across the country. To date over 2.6 million of these vaccines have been administered. I am encouraged that as we reach a majority threshold of Canadians receiving these vaccines, then our lives will become more normalized.

Once passenger confidence is restored, then we will begin to see an upswing in air travel, and a resulting upswing in employment levels across many industries. I look forward with optimism to the day when all IAM members are returned to full employment, and we can resume our normal representation and organizing strategies. That day is coming, sooner rather than later.

Yours in Solidarity and Friendship,

Stan Pickthall

General Vice President
IAMAW Canada

SP/jc

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This article was originally posted on the IAM Canada website. View the original post here: GVP Stan Pickthall on the COVID-19 pandemic