Airport screening officers are once again planning to gather outside Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday, calling for better pay and less stressful working conditions, and this time they are not alone.
Screening officers at YVR are part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), but the United Steel Workers (USW) will be joining them by holding simultaneous rallies at airports across Canada including Toronto, Montreal and other places.
The rally will take place on June 28 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. PST
The "information rallies" aim to educate the public on issues screening officers face, including the long lineups at most Canadian airports, explained Dave Flowers, president of IAMAW District 140.
Flowers is reassuring the public that officers attending the rally are there on their own time or during their breaks so the flying public will not be impacted.
"It is also not intended to cause the travelling public any further delays or disruptions," he said.
"Our hope is to gain public support and put pressure on the federal government and CATSA to hold the third-party contractors accountable."
Many screening employees at Canadian airports want better working conditions, collective agreement issues and fair compensation, Flowers added.
Screening officers usually get paid $17-$22 an hour depending on their work experience, but most make less than a living wage.
"Screening agents have been referred to as a resource. They are highly skilled workers that bear the responsibility of helping keep the travelling public safe and they wish to be treated with respect and fairness."
Richmond News previously reported on long lineups at YVR’s security checkpoints and on some travellers almost missing their flights despite arriving hours in advance.
Screeners at YVR are employed by a third-party contractor, Allied Universal, which, in turn, is contracted by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the agency responsible for passenger and luggage screening at YVR and other airports.
CATSA laid off numerous security officers during the pandemic and are now dealing with a labour shortage. This means the screening officers currently employed are working long hours to meet the increased passenger volume, Flowers previously told the News.
He added that they are at the bargaining table and are hoping CATSA holds the third-party-like Allied Universal accountable to raising wages and creating a better work environment.
- with files from Nono Shen