Airline’s president’s pay hike called ‘a slap in the face’ -Montreal Gazette

From the Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL – A union president leading tough contract talks on behalf of 11,000 of his members sent Air Canada president Calin Rovinescu a blistering letter this week calling his compensation hike “a personal insult and a slap in the face to all our members.”

In the letter obtained by The Gazette, Chuck Atkinson, president of transportation District 140 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, claimed the jump in Rovinescu’s total compensation last year to $4.6 million from $2.58 million in 2009 violates an agreement with the union. Rovinescu also stands to collect a “one-time retention payment of $5 million” March 31, 2012, if he is still employed by Air Canada.

The union called Rovinescu’s pay hike a 77-per-cent jump, but Air Canada senior vice-president for employee relations Kevin C. Howlett said in a reply letter to Atkinson that Rovinescu’s 2010 package was for the full year while the 2009 figure was for nine months. Rovinescu became president on March 30, 2009.

Atkinson, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, said he may seek legal recourse to try to block the pay package.

Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur replied the letter “contains several misleading and in some cases factually incorrect assertions.”

Rovinescu’s compensation “is 100-per-cent compliant with (his) original 2009 employment contract,” Arthur said in an email.

Contracts with the airline’s four main unions representing nearly all its 23,000 employees lapsed March 31, and the airline has so far reached a tentative accord with the executive council of one of the four, the Air Canada Pilots Association. That union is currently shopping the provisional deal around to its 3,000 pilots – and meeting considerable resistance.

But the other three unions are just starting their talks and are seeking retroactive compensation for heavy wage and benefits concessions made over years, including 2009 givebacks and freezes that helped save the teetering airline from bankruptcy.

Rovinescu’s package includes incentives and “milestones payments” based on performance. The company earned $107 million last year compared with a loss of $24 million in 2009. In a letter to shareholders, Rovinescu wrote “over the past year, we made significant progress in strengthening the corporation.”

Atkinson wrote “this exorbitant increase” is an affront “to all our members who have made huge sacrifices over the last decade to ensure Air Canada continued to operate.”

And he signed off, apparently tongue-in-cheek, saying that as “unions are now entering into collective bargaining, this (issue) could not have come at a more opportune time. It would seem only fair that your employees receive a similar increase in their total compensation, retroactive to 2009 as well.”

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Airline+president+hike+called+slap+face/4618633/story.html#ixzz1Jc52OgCF

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