The outside of YVR International Airport, which says it will be fully operational for Labour Day weekend, 2013.

The outside of YVR International Airport, which says it will be fully operational for Labour Day weekend, 2013.

Vancouver airport, unions avoid Labour Day long weekend strike

YVR reached a tentative agreement with nearly 350 workers, meaning the airport will be operational this weekend.

The Vancouver airport has reached a tentative agreement with two unions to avoid a strike of nearly 350 workers, just before the travel-heavy Labour Day long weekend.

The deal was reached on Thursday night after two straight days of “eleventh-hour negotiations”, after a strike notice was issued on Tuesday by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.

A walkout was scheduled for midnight, Thursday.

“It came down to the wire, but in the end I feel we have a fair agreement that works for our members as well as the employer,” said Dave Clark, regional vice-president of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, to the Canadian Press.

“We all worked hard to get it.”

Even before Thursday night’s pending deal, an airport spokesperson said YVR would be operational for this weekend, although passengers were told to expect delays with the possibility of limited personnel (*video below).

The B.C. Federation of Labour, however, had said travel in or out of YVR Airport would have been “chaos” this weekend if an agreement was not reached.

“If the strike goes ahead – and it doesn’t have to, it doesn’t have to – but if it does, there will be plenty of chaos, plenty of disruption at the airport,” said Federation spokesperson Irene Lanzinger (CBC).

The strike hinged (hinges, until it’s accepted) on concessions the airport wants, including wages for tradespeople, flexible shifts, and contracting out labour.

“This is quite new news, we’ve been working hard,” said Anne Murray, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Airport Authority, just after the deal was reached. “The negotiating team has been working quite hard over the last couple of days, but it has been months of negotiations.”

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