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Vancouver airport screening officers rally to demand higher wages, better working conditions


More than 30 off-duty airport security screening officers staged a rally outside the international terminal at Vancouver's airport Monday, attempting to send a message to the public that they’re overworked and underpaid.

Holding signs and chanting slogans, the group held the rally as its union currently negotiates a new contract with Allied Universal Security, an American company contracted by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

“We’re talking about very limited breaks, frequent scheduling changes, health and safety issues,” said David Flowers, President of the District 140 Union.

While employees at the rally were instructed not to speak on-record to media, CTV News learned that they are frustrated with working conditions. Several highlighted one incentive in which the company provides a bonus to employees for working three months straight – but alleged that any workers who miss a single day due to sickness forfeits their eligibility.

Allied Universal disputed this claim.

"We are not aware of any attendance bonus programs with the requirements you outline…where a person loses all incentives for missing one day," a spokesperson wrote in an email.

The company also said, in a previous statement, that its employees are its “greatest asset,” and that staff are encouraged to report any issues to management.

Flowers says the union is also seeking higher wages, telling CTV News the typical worker makes around $19 per hour.

Earlier this month, CTV News reported on staffing issues among security screeners, resulting in frustratingly long wait timess for passengers.

Since then, Flowers says hundreds of screening officers have been hired but that the employer won’t address the core issue facing workers.

“At least 50 per cent or more don’t make it through the training classes,” said Flowers. “So you can hire 400 people but if they don’t stay, that’s more of the same issue.”

With the busy summer season approaching, an airport spokesperson tells CTV News they’ll deploy guest services staff and volunteers to help manage passenger flow if necessary However, the Vancouver Airport Authority still recommends travelers arrive two hours prior to traveling domestic, and three hours early if flying international.

Flowers admits that the union has limited leverage in the negotiations, as security screening officers are federally mandated to continue working, meaning a strike or walk-out is not on the table.

With negotiations at a standstill, Flowers wants the federal government to step in.

"We believe there should be oversight and accountability from CATSA and the federal government on these third parties because then there might be some difference in the way we’re progressing,” said Flowers. “Because right now, we’re not getting anywhere.”

A CATSA spokesperson told CTV News it is confident the two parties will reach an agreement but it wouldn’t speculate on any federal intervention at this time. Top Stories

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