The story of our local begins with the story of deHavilland aircraft, the Canadian deHavilland plant came into being in Weston Ontario in 1928 owned by the British deHavilland Company of Hatfield England where they assembled British built “Moth” series of Aircrafts. By 1942 the workforce there was organized by the UAW and a charter was granted to local 112, on January 27th, 1954 office workers applied for charter to better represent their particular issues in the office and local 673 was formed. Around the same time deHavilland moved operation to its present location in Downsview airfield at the Canadian Forces Base in Toronto. The Avro, Malton plant (Toronto International Airport) producer of the “Arrow” then became part of the deHavilland Company and began to produce wings in a joint venture with the U.S.A. giant McDonnell Douglas Corporation for their DC9 family of Jets. McDonnell Douglas, in mid-1962 deHavilland Canada purchased the Avro plant in Malton. By 1955 with a doubling DC9 production schedule the portion of the Malton plant was leased for 5 years to Douglas to be operated by them with an option to renew for 3 terms of 5 years each. At the time the Avro workers were part of the International Association of Mechanists (IAM) when deHavilland bought this plant, meanwhile the workers in Downsview were UAW local 112. After a campaign by both locals the workers decided in favor of UAW 112, which then represented both plants.In 1960 Hawker Siddeley Aviation but kept it as a separate company until 1963. In that year it became the deHavilland Division of Hawker Siddeley Aviation. On May 27,1974 the Canadian Government bought deHavilland when Hawker Siddeley balked at investment in deHavilland’s first large commercial aircraft the DASH 7, deHavilland already had developed a sturdy line of Bush Planes, the Beaver, Otter, Twin Otter, the Caribou and the Buffalo aircrafts. The late 70’s seen the development and manufacturing of the deHavilland DASH-8 aircraft rolling out in 1983. In January 1986 Conservative Trade Minister Sinclair Stevens gave deHavilland to Boeing of Seattle for $90 million, In June of 1987 Boeing forces a strike (10 weeks) in their first set of negotiations with Local 673 and 112. On July 20th 1990 Boeing announces the sale of deHavilland to Aerospatiale / Alenia both deHavilland Locals 673 and 112 are against the sale and begin to lobby the governments of Ontario and the Federal. Finally by January 22nd, 1992 under pressure of the CAW and the Ontario NDP government a joint ownership of deHavilland is penned with Bombardier Group of Companies and the Ontario Government split 51/49.The Guided Missile Division, this department worked along with deHavilland propellers ltd. It provided the Canadian government with technical units, drawing on British missile experience and know how. In 1960 the name was changed to Special Canadian Applied Research (SPAR) part of Avro, taken over when deHavilland bought Avro buildings on the site of the present internal center in Malton. In 1969 Larry Clarke, manager of SPAR division purchased this division from Hawker Siddeley for $1,350,000 and made it a separate company. SPAR now has as its crowning achievement its work for the space programs its Canadaarm for NASA.
The long history of SPAR began with the acquisition of the de Havilland Canada’s Special Products Division in 1967 (i.e. Alouette 1). In 1969, Spar bought York Gears Limited and the following September officially opened its new head office on Caledonia Road in Toronto. In November 1990, the R&O operations, known as the Aviation Services Division, moved to a new building in Mississauga, Ontario. SPAR's major projects included the complete overhaul of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's 40-year-old C-130 Hercules aircraft. Other customers included the Royal Norwegian Air Force, United States Coast Guard, and Greece's Hellenic Air Force. SPAR performed several avionics upgrades and a Depot Level Inspection and Repair (DLIR) for the Canadian Forces Air Command CL-41 Tutor aircraft flown by the Snowbirds acrobatic team. In 2001, the business was acquired by L3 Communications and closed the SPAR division July 31st, 2014. It was a very hard and trying time for our SPAR members with a 17 week strike that took them over Christmas and wasn’t settled until February of 1987, but the solidarity and support they demonstrated for their union during that strike sent a clear message to the corporation that they were not prepared to lose any fights at the weigh in. The membership had always been solidly behind their union then when the chips were down. Nowhere was this more evident than during that set of negotiations. Their efforts and support during the last couple of days were a major factor in achieving an unparalleled contract during these recessionary times.
The 1987 strike symbolized the plight of our new Canadian National Union CAW. In this alteration, not only were we fighting the almighty Boeing Corporation, but also the Big 3 auto makers as well. If Boeing would have been successful in forcing the deHavilland workers to accept concessions, then the auto makers could expect the same. Our local union endured a bitter 10-week strike and conceded to none of Boeings concessionary demands. We not only set the pattern for our new Canadian Union but laid the necessary groundwork for auto workers to obtain indexed pensions. Boeing 24 pages of demands included takeaways to most areas of our collective agreement. (continental work weeks, mandatory shifts, mandatory overtime, and elimination of most seniority provisions within the agreement, including layoffs. The strike will always be remembered as one sweet victory for Local 673 members.
The sale of deHavilland to ATR would have been disastrous for us in both the short and long term. Would the French and Italian governments invest in Canada, or would they succumb to pressure to produce in house? The chain of events from July 1990 until the deal was killed by Investment Canada and the European Commission leaves little doubt as to their real motivations. As the major competitor to deHavilland, would they continue to diligently market the DASH-8 100-300 series, or would they market their ATR-42? Would they continue deHavilland’s long tradition of building complete aircraft or would we be supplying parts to their final assembly operations in France? All these questions are easily answered. Our two demonstrations, the Progressive Conservative Headquarters and Federal Industry Minister Michael Wilson’s office, our law suit headed by Local 112 President Jerry Dias against the Federal Government, combined with the tremendous media attention, allowed us to do what no other group has been able to accomplish having the Federal Conservative government block a sale through Investment Canada. In over 900 applications, deHavilland is the only proposal ever rejected. This came as a result of hard work and much sacrifice by those members who gave their time and risked discipline to stand and fight for what they believed in.
November 8, 2018, Bombardier announced the sale of the Q400 aircraft program assets, including aftermarket operations, to a wholly owned subsidiary of Longview Aviation Capital Corp for approximately $300 million. According to reports, the sale agreement covers all assets and intellectual property and Type Certificates associated with the Dash 8 Series 100, 200 and 300 as well as the Q400 program operations at Downsview. The announcement came as complete shock to Unifor and is a betrayal to our 673 members. During the 2018 contract negotiations Bombardier advised they were selling the Q400 and the Downsview lands, all on board the National departments; Research, Legal and Communication supported our campaign to stop the sale of the Downsview Lands and the sale of the Q400. A huge victory when Bombardier announced they were committed to Unifor they would not sell the Q400 in exchange Unifor would stop the campaign against the sale of the Downsview Lands
In comes Longview November 16th,2018 we met with David Curtis, CEO of Longview Aviation Capital Corporation. This was an introductory meeting only, however David did confirm the following:
* The agreement of sale was made on November 7, 2018
* The sale is subject to regulatory approval.
* The sale is expected to close in or around June 2019.
* The sale includes the de Havilland name and trademark.
* Longview will operate at Downsview until at least 2021 and will abide by the terms of the current Collective Agreements
We recognized through the discovery process and the diligent work of our National Union's Research and Legal departments that the sale of the Q400 program adhering to Article 69 of the Labour Relations Act was in fact legal. While Article 69 ensured that the successor employer, now known to be Longview Aviation Capital, had all the same obligations under the CBA, it did not obligate Bombardier or Longview to consider seniority with respect to how our Membership would be divided between the two respective companies as the Bombardier CBA did not provide our Members the right to choose aircraft programs by seniority. We knew this would be unacceptable to our Members which was confirmed after canvassing the Memberships of both Locals. Given what we had learned and with the full support of our National Union, Locals 673 and 112 chose for the first time to negotiate with Bombardier together. We entered into negotiations with Bombardier attempting to reach an Employee Transition Agreement that would address our Members' seniority concerns and provide greater options and protections than Article 69 alone would ensure. The Employee Transition Agreement among other things, provides mobility rights to our Members at deHavilland who would have had the seniority to exercise bumping rights at Bombardier should the Q400 program have ceased instead of being sold. These Members can bump back to Bombardier in the event of an opening occurs within Bombardier. The remaining Members in the new deHavilland unit have the right to join a blended Bombardier recall list should the deHavilland production operation cease. On June 1st, 2019, the Downsview Bombardier facility was divided between 2 separate employers, Bombardier and deHavilland which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Longview Capital. The Local 673 Membership was divided into 2 separate units, the Bombardier and the deHavilland units. Local 673 representatives for both Bombardier and deHavilland was mirrored due to the Successor Rights under the labour act, both units had to elect the same number of representatives to both CBA. We are completing our elections. All full-time representatives haven been filled.
Bourgue Electronics joined the 673 family in 1989 however due to a long strike and the Employers’ unwillingness to continue with the business this relationship was short lived. This was an interesting experience as negotiations with this company revealed that the employer wanted increased hours of work, along with pay cuts of 3% which would total 10% cuts. In addition, the employer wanted to eliminate rest times and have workers continue working while taking refreshments.
In 1987 Green Shield Health Insurance employee’s in Toronto had many issues within the office that needed to be addressed the workers reached out to organized and joined local 673, unique to our local we share a Collective Agreement that was already in place with local 240 who represent Green Shield workers in Windsor.
In 2013 Toromont Lab Technicians requested the right to organize their workplace, it took seven months for the employer CAT to sit down. April 21st, 2014, nine new members ratified their first agreement. It was not long before we realized that CAT was not happy to have one more unionized workplace under their belt. We managed to increase our numbers, provide the best workmanship yet after Toromont acquired the company Hewitt who had a larger laboratory, they closed the Lab on April 9, 2019 moving the work to Quebec.
The National approached the Local in December 2018 on taking on a newly organized workers from the Toronto Skating, Curling and Cricket Club. These workers organized for many reasons, respect, fair treatment, low wages from maintenance, food and beverage to kitchen staff these workers pursued Unifor to represent them. Training and Education was our first initial to help the workers, we entered bargaining 5 months after being certified, it was difficult to retrieve proper information from the employer. The employer retained both lawyers and HR consultants to help with negotiations, this did not intimidate out leadership since bargaining is what we do everyday and we have resources we use to best represent our members. At the time of publishing this article we are in our 8th month of bargaining. Long hours just make us stronger, whatever it takes Unifor is ready to make it happen. Fairness and respect are our main goal in this set of negotiations and respect will be noted in wages. The employer continues to cry no money but they are holding off till after negotiations with Unifor before increasing their own. We are in this fight with all we have. Each and every member deserves respect and we are here to make sure we tools in place to make their lives are better.
Our Local has grown many times over from the brave members of January 1954, including SPAR Aerospace Limited, McDonnell Douglas Corporation, Bourgue Electronics, Green Shield Canada, Toromont Cat, our latest negotiating of our first agreement The Toronto Skating, Curling and Cricket Club.
Some of the strengths of this local are the continuity and wealth of experience of founding Unifor in 2013 executive board members that continues to be a part of the membership, and even the current executive board. Women have also played very important leadership roles in this local, holding positionsfrom President, chairpersons at the different units, financial secretaries, recording secretaries etc. These women helped to elevate other women above those positions of merely playing hostess to our male population.Carole Philips now retired was the National Director of Education and international affairs came out of our local after having held positions within the executive board and chairperson of the deHavilland unit.Dawn Cartwright now retired was the first National Aerospace Director and a National Representative who formerly came out of the deHavilland unit. In 1979 Dawn was the first to challenge the Paid Education Leave selection committee to send more women to Port Elgin.Karen Davies former president and chairperson of the McDonnell Douglas was appointed to the ministry of labor as an arbitrator until the Mike Harris regime was ushered in. Kim Sedore past chairperson of the deHavilland unit was appointed as a National Representative after showing great leadership during a difficult set of negotiations in January 2003. Also, as a result to Kim’s determination in the 1980’s while out on maternity Kim was able to lobby for no lost time as a result to being on maternity and women were guaranteed their job positions upon returning even though a senior person may have been filling in for their leave. Maria Pinto a great advocate for workers and especially women, President of our local from 2004 till she retired in 2009. Maria remains very active as a retiree and sits on the National Retirees Chapter for Unifor since 2016. Other dedicated women were and are appointed to boards and councils and today women are still very involved in our local. The legacy of this local is rich with community involvement, supports many picket lines, demonstrations, the local has been participating in yearly Labor Day parade.
Now we are seeking to move to a new stage in that journey. We learned important lessons over the years by coming together and engaging our members against the austerity of both corporation and government. That showed the need for a much deeper relationship between the local, our membership, our affiliates and social justice allies.